Politicians looking for re-election, hopefuls looking for an upset and seats open due to term limits make up the field for the upcoming primary election set for Tuesday, Aug. 7.
One of the more contested battles is for a Missouri Senate seat representing District 34 — Platte and Buchanan counties.
Martin T. Rucker II is running unopposed on the Democratic ticket so he will advance to the November general election. That hadn’t kept the former NFL player from hitting the pavement throughout the area and the Riverside area resident has signs throughout Platte County.
Who will be his opponent is a race between Harry Roberts and Tony Luetkemeyer.
Roberts is the current Buchanan County presiding commissioner, while Luetkemeyer is running for public office for the first time. The Parkville resident is a lawyer in Kansas City.
The battle for the Republican nomination has featured nearly a million raised by the campaigns vying to fill the spot vacated by Rob Schaaf, who reached his term limit.
Schaaf is backing Roberts, doing so on a Facebook post, and in the process ribbed into the dark money factor of politics. In the lengthy post on July 20, he referenced a direct mailer from a political activist group named the Missouri Senate Conservative Fund. The mailer called Roberts ‘Dirty Harry’ and listed reasons to not vote for him.
The reference is to a movie character played by Clint Eastwood, who was a cop that hunted a killer.
Contributions shows that PAC has donated money to Roberts’ opponent.
“The amount of money being spent in this race is unprecedented,” said Roberts, who was elected in 2014 to the commission. “My opponent and his allies have spent nearly one million dollars lying and attacking me. Nearly 90 percent of this money is from outside the district, including nearly half of a million dollars from a Washington, D.C. dark money group, which is a group that doesn’t have to disclose its donors.”
Roberts defended the attacks on pay raises, new taxes and illegal contributions.
“Our campaign continues to gain momentum, that’s why my opponent has resorted to outright lies,” he said. “Lying about his endorsements. Lying about running a ‘positive’ campaign and lying about me. My opponent epitomizes corrupt DC politics, and people are sick of it. Here are some basic facts my opponent and his allies continue to lie about:
Raising politicians pay: I reduced the overall compensation of elected officials by over $20,000.
Ethics investigation: My opponent filed a sham ethics complaint, and the ethics commission said it had no merit.
Increasing spending: I’m proud that we cut over $100,000 in wasteful spending during my first year in office. We also eliminated the debt by cutting spending, not by raising taxes.”
Luetkemeyer has plenty of endorsements from inside Platte County. Those who he says are behind him include Sheriff Mark Owen, all three county commissioners, as well as the mayors from Riverside, Platte Woods, Northmoor and Weston. He has the backing of board of education members in the West Platte, Park Hill and Platte County School Districts.
That could be a boon for him.
The St. Joseph News-Press reported Platte County has had a big impact in the 34th District race in past years. In the past three elections, Platte County has averaged more than 3,300 votes per election more than Buchanan County. Some of that can be contributed to an influx of residents locally.
“At the end of the day, I don’t think voters care about endorsements, I think they care about individual candidates and what they stand for,” he said. “(My opponent) is a career politician who has consistently broken promises and governed like a liberal.”
Luetkemeyer notes his key issues are increasing jobs, while reducing crime and illegal immigration. He wants to keep taxes low, so family and business can spend more, which in turn, turns into reinvesting resources.
He is running on the premise he is an outsider running for political office for the first time. There have been questions raised how he is an outsider if his wife, Lucinda, was the chief legal counsel for former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, whose name has become tied to dark money contributions that led to a state-led inquiry that ended after he resigned. Luetkemeyer calls dragging his wife into the race a ‘gutless’ political game.
“My opponent is a typical career politician,” Luetkemeyer said. “He has used dirty, untruthful attack ads and he is a person that doesn’t want to talk about his own record of raising taxes, giving government funded bailouts and increasing pay of his fellow politicians. He doesn’t want to defend it, instead he tells outright lies and falsehoods. Voters are too smart for that. Buchanan County and Platte County voters will see a desperate career politician try to hang onto power.”
Luetkemeyer pointed out Roberts raised the county’s budget by $4 million, but the News-Press noted $1 million would go to update the heating and cooling system at the courthouse, while another million would be for economic development. Also added to the budget was $180,000 for salary raises and adding cyber liability insurance for the first time.
The Missouri graduate noted he has disclosed each of his contributions to his campaign and they can be found on the Missouri Ethics Commission page. He noted both candidates have received money from out-of-district donors, but he can’t control what third party groups do — like the mailer dubbing Roberts ‘Dirty Harry.’
The race for the Republican bid will go down to the wire. A Missouri Times poll that asked 400 voters showed Luetkemeyer up by 9 percent.
Roberts will be joined Saturday by former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft at an ice cream social in Platte City. The event at 601 Main St. will start at 10 a.m. There will be an event in St. Joseph later that day.
Luetkemeyer will spend his final days of the campaign knocking on doors of would-be voters, the same thing he started his campaign with.
Here’s a look at the other notable races that will be on the ballot.
State Representative, District 11
Republican: Jeff Penland, Lloyd ‘Buck’ Graham, Chris Shove and Brenda Shields
Democratic: Brady O’Dell
The only non-St. Joseph resident in this race is Shove, a Dearborn resident. The winner will replace St. Joseph resident Galen Higdon, who is done after winning four times. This district covers Platte and Buchanan counties, which includes Weston, Dearborn, Edgerton and Tracy.
An owner of a winery in Platte County, he is running for office after a long career in public education, most recently at Missouri Western State University.
A native of New York City, Shove joined the Marines as a 17-year-old. After helping pass legislation that turned into law in Oklahoma, he developed an interest in politics and helping people.
This is his first official bid for office, though he was appointed to the city council in Norman, Oklahoma, while working at the university, where he was a professor.
“I like the idea of helping a lot of people and being a state rep, you can do that,” Shove said.
Shove said he has three priorities he is focusing in on his campaign: create more good-paying jobs, protect private property rights by eliminating the personal property tax and safe schools/higher paying jobs for teachers.
A consultant with the U.S. Veterans Affair, Shove has played a role in 8,000 veterans landing jobs in the Kansas City metro area. He noted that keeping businesses in the two counties is also critical, especially with factories closing in St. Joseph and Kansas City. Addressing business climate issues, such as the one that led to Dairy Farmers of America, from moving from the KCI corridor to Wyandotte County (Kan.) needs to be addressed.
He noted that 19 states have gotten rid of the personal property tax and that it is a challenge for farmers, businessmen and citizens. Shove noted Missouri has the third-highest personal property tax in the USA, according to the Tax Foundation, based in Washington D.C.
“I have a lot of farmer friends and personal property tax is a hot issue,” Shove said. “They have combines, tractor-trailers. Things you can see, they are really hit with property taxes.”
State Representative, District 12
Republican: Ken Wilson
Democratic: Sandy Van Wagner
A battle of Smithville residents will decide who represent a district that features both Platte and Clay counties. Wilson has won elections in 2012, 2014 and 2016. He is a former law enforcement officer for the Platte County Sheriff’s Office and later police chief in Smithville.
State Representative, District 13
Republican: Vic Allred
Democratic: Mitch Weber
This showdown pits two Parkville residents against each other to replace another Parkville resident. Rep. Nick Marshall served four terms in the house, first elected in 2010. A practicing private attorney, Marshall is now running for a spot against Eric Zahnd as Platte County prosecutor.
Allred is the owner or co-owner of Jazz - A Louisiana Kitchen in the Kansas City area. Weber is also a local businessman, operating Toto TV production in his hometown of Parkville. Prior to that, he spent 16 years working in the media with stints at FOX 4 and KSHB 41 Action News in Kansas City.
State Representative, District 14
Republican: Kevin Corlew
Democratic: Matt Sain
Corlew has won the past two elections and is vying for a third straight term to represent southeast Platte County and southwest Clay County. Towns in this area include Riverside, Northmoor, Lake Waukomis, Houston Lake, Platte Woods and part of Kansas City.
Corlew attempted to run for a Missouri State Senate seat in a special election in June, but lost to Lauren Arthur.
Both candidates are lawyers in Kansas City.
U.S. House of Representatives District 6
Republican: Sam Graves
Democratic: Winston Apple, Henry Robert Martin, Dr. Ed Andres
Libertarian: Dan Hogan
Graves, a Tarkio businessman and farmer, has been in office since 2000. He represents a district that covers 36 counties across northern Missouri, from the Nebraska/Kansas border to the Illinois border and all the towns area that borders Iowa.
Hogan is from St. Peters, Mo., while the three democrats hail from northwest Missouri area: Apple from Independence; Martin from Kansas City and Andres from St. Joseph.
Republican: Kevin Roach, David Wasinger, Paul Curtman, Saundra McDowell
Democratic: Nicole Galloway
Libertarian: Sean O’Toole
Green: Don Fitz
Constitution: Jacob Luetkemeyer
Galloway is the incumbent. The only local person in the race is Kansas City resident O’Toole.
Republican: Tony Monetti, Austin Petersen, Josh Hawley, Fred Ryman, Christina Smith, Kristi Nichols, Bradley Krembs, Ken Patterson, Brian Hagg, Courtland Sykes, Peter Pfeifer.
Democratic: Carla Wright, Angelica Earl, Leonard Steinman II, John Hogan, Travis Gonzalez, David Faust, McCaskill.
Libertarian: Japheth Campbell
Green: Jo Crain, Jerome Bauer.
McCaskill is the incumbent and will likely face Hawley, currently the attorney general for Missouri. Regionally, Nichols and Sykes are from Independence, Petersen is from Peculiar, Faust is from Raymore and Crain is from Kansas City.