Back when she ran for governor in 2008, then-state Treasurer Sarah Steelman sent out a press release touting the support of non-elected individuals. It was meant as a jab of sorts against U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, a Columbia Republican who had scooped up support from elected officials across the state.
Flash forward four years later, and Steelman is running for the U.S. Senate seat. In a crowded primary, she's considered one of three credible candidates for the chance to face off against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri).
This time around, Steelman has some advantages. She's the only candidate to run statewide out of a field that includes Rep. Todd Akin (R-Wildwood) and Frontenac businessman John Brunner. She also is the most visible candidate from outstate Missouri.
The latter aspect was showcased in full earlier this week when Steelman announced that several dozens of state representatives had endorsed her U.S. Senate campaign. Nearly everybody on the list was from a district outside the urban confines of Kansas City or St. Louis. The only elected officials from the St. Louis area were Rep. Mike Leara (R-St. Louis County) and Anne Zerr (R-St. Charles).
“It is great that Sarah is running,” Zerr said in a statement. “It is good to have strong women out front leading, who are not afraid to fight for our values. Sarah knows the value of good public policy and will bring that knowledge to the United States Senate.”
Notably, Jon Seaton, Brunner’s campaign manager, pointed out Steelman’s earlier reluctance to tout endorsements from elected officials.
Wednesday, he tweeted: “Who said ‘I've never been interested in getting other elected officials' endorsements?’ Give you three guesses.”
The answer was Steelman, who made the comments in 2008 in an article for the St. Joseph News-Press. A Brunner spokesman unleashed a full statement criticizing the endorsements soon after they were announced.
Steelman mentioned in a statement that there was some real value in having support from state representatives, apart from any organizational expertise.
“When they go back home to their districts, not only do they hear from constituents about the lack of common sense in government, they experience the pain of government overreach first-hand,” Steelman said.
“Not only is this a group of state representatives, it is a group of mothers, fathers, doctors, small business owners, farmers and ranchers who recognize that the best government is a limited government closer to the people.”
St. Louis legislators like Akin
Akin (R-Wildwood), meanwhile, seems to have received a lion’s share of support from St. Louis area legislators. He put out a news release a few weeks ago announcing the support of lawmakers such as Sen. Jim Lembke (R-Lemay), Rep. Mark Parkinson (R-St. Charles), Rep. Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) and Rep. Gary Fuhr (R-St. Louis County).
“These men and women walk the capitol in which I once served, and they bring great credibility from their respective districts,” Akin said in a statement. “They are the legislative voice that is closest to the voters and I am grateful for their kind support.”
Brunner, who announced the support this week from Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) and Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), earlier snagged the endorsement of Rep. Paul Curtman (R-Pacific).