Missouri voters eye new faces for U.S. House and Senate

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) — Next year, Missouri voters could send a batch of new faces to Capitol Hill.

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

Voters will also have two seats up for grabs in the U.S. House, as incumbents Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long have 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 didn’t translate into a lead in the polls.

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

He said, “I think they did. And, you know, I think anybody who gets into it knows they can lose. And that is democracy. Right? You could win, but you could also lose. What this 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 has succeeded. Many members of Congress, and you’ve seen the state, 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 they had a chance to lose and they were prepared to lose.

Walling said serving in the US Congress is different from serving in the Missouri state house.

“They’re going to have to learn the ropes like any new congressman does. Eventually they’re going to be, you know, movers and shakers, I’m sure. But right off the bat, they’re going to have to do their apprenticeship and learn what it’s like to be a congressman and so on. Everyone who is running has served in the state legislature or executive. And, so nobody’s been to Congress before and nobody knows what it’s going to be like. And, so it’s going to be a while before we see any major impacts from these people,” Walling said.

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

“You know, it’s just a name everyone knows. He is a stable character. I think, among state Republicans. He’s conservative, but not, you know, super right-wing conservative. He’s someone Democrats can turn to and go, okay, well, I know what I get out of this guy and I trust him,” Walling said. “He’s been there a long time. But, you know, it’s a loss, isn’t it? Because he’s been there for so long. He opened a lot of doors. He is networked. He has forged many links with management. It will therefore be a loss for the State.

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

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

In November, the outcome of the voters’ decision will also be the factor for which party takes power in the House and Senate.

Right-wing Democrats hold power in both cases, with slim margins.

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