Candidate filing closes without action on Missouri congressional map

No big surprises as 48 new entrants join fields for Senate, Congress and state auditor and legislative races

By: - March 30, 2022 7:00 am

State Rep. Randy Pietzman completes his filing paperwork for the 10th Senate District with Anne Steele of the Secretary of State’s office. Pietzman was the last candidate to file before Tuesday’s deadline. (Rudi Keller/Missouri Independent)

Candidate filing closed Tuesday with a flurry of last-minute action but no movement in the General Assembly on a new map for Missouri’s eight congressional districts.

The Missouri House closed off the last chance for a new congressional district map before filing closed when it rejected the plan approved last week in the state Senate and asked for negotiations over the differences.

State Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial, asked the House to vote against the map, saying it failed to keep districts compact or to keep “communities of interest” together.

Shaul, who chairs the House Redistricting Committee, said he has been asking since the Senate vote for an explanation of why Webster County in southwest Missouri and Boone County in central Missouri are split among districts.

“Explain to us why you split the city of Marshfield,” Shaul said. “Explain to me why you split the (University of Missouri) campus down the middle.”

The House voted 115-19 to send the Senate proposal back, demanding the upper chamber either accept the House version or go to a conference committee for negotiations. The Senate had not acted by publication time.

The vote came two hours before the 5 p.m. filing deadline for the Aug. 2 primaries. New candidates, 48 in all, visited the Secretary of State’s office to file for U.S. Senate, state auditor, congressional, state Senate, Missouri House and judicial races. When filing closed, 506 candidates total were listed.

The last candidate through was state Rep. Randy Pietzman, R-Troy, who joined a crowded GOP primary race for the open 10th state Senate District, currently held by Sen. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane.

He came right behind another 10th District GOP candidate, Wentzville Municipal Judge Mike Carter, and soon after another candidate, Jason Franklin, withdrew. The field as of 5 p.m. also included four other candidates, but filing will reopen next week from Tuesday through Friday because of the withdrawal. No Democratic candidate has filed.

He was late to file, Pietzman said, because he was uncertain. He is leaving the House due to term limits and had a public fight with Gov. Mike Parson last year over $300,000 he worked to secure for a crackdown on sex crimes against children in his county. Parson vetoed the money and Pietzman led an effort to override it, which passed in the House but ultimately failed in the Senate.

“I feel like that is some unfinished business that needs to be taken care of,” Pietzman said.

He said he has little campaign cash as he enters the race that includes state Rep. Travis Fitzwater of Fulton, former state Rep. Bryan Spencer of Wentzville, Joshua Price of Mexico and Jeff Carter of Montgomery City. 

He will tell voters he reflects their views and way of life, he said. 

“I am not your typical candidate,” Pietzman said. “I am going to say I am the closest thing to an average person walking on the street.”

There were no big new entrants in high-profile races. That took place Monday, when Anheuser-Busch beer heiress Trudy Busch Valentine jumped into the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and state Sen. Steven Roberts, D-St. Louis, entered the 1st Congressional District Democratic primary against first-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Cori Bush.

Valentine’s entry signaled the departure of former state Sen. Scott Sifton from the race but drew fire from Lucas Kunce, who has led all candidates in fundraising so far. Connor Lounsbury, deputy campaign manager for Kunce, tweeted a statement that highlighted his efforts since joining the race in 2021 and added a dig at Valentine.

Voters, the statement read, want someone “who has the courage to stand up to criminal politicians, corrupt elites running massive multinational corporations, and billionaire heiresses who have been stripping our communities for parts.”

There are 11 total Democratic candidates in the Senate primary.

Roberts, who attacked Bush as “not interested in the job of United States Representatives” was in turn attacked by Pro-Choice Missouri, an abortion rights advocacy organization. Weeks before he won election to the House in 2016, Cora Faith Walker, who was also running for a House seat in that election and who died unexpectedly March 11, accused him of raping her. No charges were ever filed. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in 2015, that he was investigated, but not charged, in connection with another alleged assault. 

“Given the multiple allegations of sexual assault against Roberts, Pro-Choice Missouri calls on the Senator to immediately suspend his campaign for the United States House of Representatives,” the group said in a news release.

The allegations were not true, Roberts said in a statement to The Independent.

“Cori Bush and her supporters are not going to distract the voters from her indefensible and ineffective record by recycling old false negative stories,” Roberts said.

The close of filing for most races doesn’t mean all. Because of late withdrawals, filing will continue next week in the U.S. Senate race, the 16th Senate District, and five House seats in addition to the 10th Senate District.

The biggest field is the 21-way race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, where former Gov. Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, U.S. Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long, Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz and St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey are the best known.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway, the only Democrat in statewide office, is not seeking a new term. The Republican field has two candidates, state Rep. David Gregory of St. Louis County and state Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, while only one Democrat, former state Rep. Alan Green of Florissant, has filed. Libertarian John Hartwig of St. Louis is also running.

Republican majorities are almost certain to continue in both the Missouri House and Senate.

In the Senate, where Republicans hold a 24-10 majority, 17 seats will be on the ballot including 14 currently held by Republicans. The Senators who will not be up for election this year include 10 Republicans and seven Democrats.

There are six open Republican seats, all with primaries but only four where there will be a Democratic contender in November. In the eight GOP seats where incumbents are seeking re-election, all but two must win primaries but Democrats are only contesting four. There will not be a primary in any of the three seats currently held by Democrats but each district will have a contested race in the fall.

That will give the GOP an assured 16 seats.

In the 163-member Missouri House, where Republicans won 119 seats in 2020, there are 67 districts where no Democrat has filed and 28 districts where no Republican has filed. 

In 43 of 135 districts with Republican candidates, there will be a primary and the winner in 25 of those districts will not have Democratic opposition. Of the 96 districts with Democratic candidates, only 16 will have a primary and the winner will be unopposed by a Republican in eight districts.

There are no House districts with primaries in both parties.

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Rudi Keller
Rudi Keller

Rudi Keller covers the state budget and the legislature. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he spent 22 of his 32 years in journalism covering Missouri government and politics for the Columbia Daily Tribune, where he won awards for spot news and investigative reporting.