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Column: Steelman should bow out

Republicans can't afford another primary

Marcus Bowen

April 27, 2009

For the past several weeks, we've discussed some very important and pressing social issues. This week I have decided to diverge from what has become our norm. This is a political column, so this week, we're going to discuss politics -- right down to the nitty-gritty.

Last year, Kenny Hulshof decisively lost the gubernatorial election. He didn't lose because he couldn't connect with Missourians or because he didn't have any good ideas. In fact, he had a lot of great ideas. Despite his charismatic personality and highly detailed campaign platform, he still lost. It's not so much that he lost to Democrat Jay Nixon, but that he lost to Sarah Steelman, his opponent in the Republican primary.

Before you e-mail me to let me know the results of the August 2008 primary, let me say I know Hulshof beat Steelman. But it was because of the primary that Kenny Hulshof ultimately lost the governor's race.

Declaring his candidacy in November 2005, Jay Nixon had a 27-month head start in fundraising. In the fundraising race, Hulshof was at a clear disadvantage. Steelman's challenge required the Hulshof campaign to spend $2.2 million on a primary race. This expenditure accounts for nearly 30 percent of the total money spent by Hulshof's campaign -- money that should have been spent on winning the general election.

Last week, The Washington Post reported that Steelman formed an exploratory committee to investigate a potential run for U.S. Senate in 2012. If Steelman does choose to run, she would face veteran Republican Congressman and former House Republican Whip Roy Blunt. If Steelman does challenge Blunt, she will undoubtedly lose the primary and ultimately cause Blunt to lose in a general election against Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

Simply put, it is impossible for Steelman to win in a primary against Blunt. In the 2008 Republican gubernatorial primary, Steelman came close by picking up counties outside of Hulshof's congressional district, many of which were located in southwestern Missouri. Steelman won seven of the 10 counties that make up Blunt's 7th Congressional District. In a primary against Blunt, Steelman would undoubtedly lose all seven of these counties, and by wide margins.

Blunt, as a national Republican leader, has access to a fundraising list unlike any other. While his fundraising has seen a slow start, his potential to stand toe-to-toe with Carnahan is unquestionable. As for Steelman, without her southwestern Missouri stronghold, her campaign has no chance at even coming close to a primary victory. This campaign, just like her last, will only serve to suck money out of Republican coffers and ensure Democratic victory.

Steelman did a great job as Missouri state treasurer. In no way do I want to demean her important and valuable contributions to our great state. I know that she truly wants the best for Missouri, and for Missourians.

Before she runs in another Republican primary, I hope Steelman will think long and hard about the wounds these primaries can cause. If she truly desires the best for the future of Missouri, she must decide not to run.

Marcus Bowen is a former vice president of the MU College Republicans and serves with the Jackson County Republican Party. He can be reached at mbowen@themaneater.com.

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