Republican contenders for Missouri senator, secretary of state and lieutenant governor debated who was most qualified to represent Missourians on Saturday as a part of the College Republican State Convention in the Tiger Hotel.
U.S. Senate debate
St. Louis businessman John Brunner questioned Rep. Todd Akin's and former state Sen. Sarah Steelman's lack of experience in the private sector.
“It’s a little different than being on being on the production line, creating products for 33 years, competing in the marketplace, creating jobs,” said Brunner, former CEO of Vi-Jon. “We need people who have been in the trenches, who have been on the front lines working in the free enterprise.”
Akin countered by listing his occupations, starting with his experience as an officer in the army in engineering, working for IBM and then a steel mill.
“All of those things, all of our life experiences are valuable and useful and you use them in making your decisions,” Akin said. “So if you’re saying, ‘well, my experience counts and somebody else doesn’t,’ well, that’s pushing it.”
Steelman sparred with Brunner over North Korea’s launched missile, claiming his campaign attacked hers and charging him with the position of wanting to blow the missile out of the sky.
"If that missile is going to harm American troops, I would definitely shoot that missile out of the sky,” Brunner said.
Other issues discussed included the extending a lower rate for student loans, the DREAM Act and the Ryan budget.
Lieutenant governor debate
Sen. Brad Lager and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder explained the working relationship each would have with Gov. Jay Nixon.
“I’m a fierce competitor at election time,” Kinder said. “But when the dust settles and the campaigns are over, I believe people expect us to work together.”
Kinder said he’s had a record of both working with Nixon when it’s good for the state and fiercely combatting him when necessary.
Kinder gave examples from his stint as lieutenant governor when he opposed Nixon, which included speaking out against cap and trade and EPA regulations and filing a constitutional challenge against Obamacare.
Lager said he agreed with Kinder to a point. He said if there were an opportunity to move the state forward, then he would do so, but not by compromising his beliefs or principles.
“The main reason I ran for office is because I believe the current direction this state is going has to be changed,” Lager said. “If this governor is going to continue to be the protector of the status quo, I’m not okay with that, and I’m going to challenge that.”
Other issues discussed included the lieutenant governor and the governor on the same ticket, term limits, the Missouri judicial selection plan, Medicaid and teacher tenure.
Secretary of state debate
Sens. Scott Rupp and Bill Stouffer and Rep. Shane Schoeller agree voter photo IDs should be required to prevent fraud.
“We need photo ID to protect the government,” Stouffer said. “You can’t live in our society without photo ID. It’s a level of security to prove we are who we are.”
Rupp said voter photo identification is necessary for common security, and is already used with credit cards, bank accounts and in the work place.
“Why shouldn’t we use this to guarantee the safety of our most sacred thing which is your right to vote?” Rupp said.
Schoeller said his legislation would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID and would not keep overseas military personnel from voting by absentee ballot, as many thought.
“We’re working with the chairman,” Schoeller said. “We’re making sure we have clarity in the language.”
Rupp and Stouffer said they wouldn’t vote for Schoeller’s bill.
“When it first came out, the way it was written, no,” Rupp said. “Obviously, those people overseas fighting to protect our right to vote should have no obstacles from us to not be able to vote.”
Other issues discussed included fiscal summaries on ballot initiatives and the misuse of the petition process.
Eli Yokely, MU sophomore and editor-in-chief of PoliticMo, moderated the debate and the MU College Republicans hosted the convention.
“It is always great to have all of the candidates on stage for a real discussion about the issues facing our country, and I am proud that PoliticMo was able to play an important role in the conversation,” Yokely said.
MU College Republicans President Craig Arnzen said he knew Yokely through his work on PoliticMo.
“He’s a good journalist and because of that, he’s well known," Arnzen said. "He was the right decision."
Republican candidates will be elected in the August primaries.