Missouri voters consider new faces for US House & Senate

Voters this November will choose their next U.S. Senator and pick new lawmakers for two U.S. House seats.
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 7:19 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Next year, Missouri voters could send a batch of new faces to Capitol Hill.

With the departure of U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, Missouri voters must choose a new senator.

Voters will also have two U.S. House seats to fill because incumbents Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long decided to run in the Republican primary for Blunt’s U.S. Senate seat.

Throughout the primary, Hartzler and Long emphasized their experience in the federal government. But that hasn’t translated to leading in the polls.

Washington News Bureau reporter Jamie Bittner asked Southwest Missouri State University political science professor, Dr. Jeremy Walling, if he believes Hartzler and Long understood the risk they were taking by giving up their seats in the U.S. House to run for the U.S. Senate.

He said, “I think they did. And, you know, I think everybody that steps into this knows that they can lose. And that’s what democracy is. Right? You could win, but you could also lose. What that tells me is that they both have something to fall back on. Right? Billy Long had a long career as an auctioneer. And, if he needs to fall back on that, then he was successful at it. A lot of members of Congress, and you’ve seen the state, they go become lobbyists. And so, I’m sure the door is open for that. So yeah, I think they knew they were running against strong candidates and that they had a chance to lose and they were prepared to lose.”

Walling said serving in the U.S. Congress is different from serving at the Missouri statehouse.

“They’re going to have to learn the ropes like every new member of Congress does. Eventually, they’re going to be, you know, movers and shakers, I’m sure. But, right out of the gate, they’re going to have to apprentice and learn what it’s like to be members of Congress and so forth. Everybody that’s running has been in the state legislature or the state executive. And, so no one’s been in Congress before and no one knows what this is going to be like. And, so it’s going to be a while before we see kind of major impacts from these people,” said Walling.

Walling noted that Blunt is well known on Capitol Hill and his departure will leave a void.

“You know, he’s just a name everyone knows. He’s a stable character. I think, among Republicans in the state. He’s conservative, but not, you know, super right-wing conservative. He’s somebody that Democrats can kind of look to and go, okay, well, I know what I’m getting out of this guy and I trust him,” said Walling. “He’s been around a long time. But, you know, he’s a loss, right? Because he’s he’s been around for so long. He’s opened a lot of doors. He’s networked. He’s made a lot of connections with the leadership. So, that’s going to be a loss for the state.”

Walling described Missouri as a red state, with many of the conservative voters living in the suburbs. But in the state’s urban areas, such as St. Louis and Kansas City, he noted voters can be more moderate or liberal.

The Washington News Bureau asked Walling about campaign promises many candidates have made to ‘stay above’ D.C. politics. The political science professor was skeptical, saying, “I don’t think it’s very realistic at all. I mean, what we see time and time again is to get anything done you need your party. You need your leadership. And, so eventually what you’re going to see is probably most of these people falling in line, falling in line and dealing with the party, making deals with the leadership. That’s just how you get things done in Congress.,” he said.

This November, the outcome of how voters decide will also be the factor for which party takes power in the House and in the Senate.

Right Democrats hold power in both, by slim margins.

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