Republican candidates canvass in Columbia

The Republican candidates in the Columbia area are focusing on getting Republican base voters to the polls and swaying undecided voters.

GOP candidates Blaine Luetkemeyer, who is running for Missouri’s 9th Congressional District; state Rep. Ed Robb, who is running for re-election in the 24th House District; and Kurt Schaefer, who is running for the 19th Senate District, gathered in Columbia on Sunday to canvass houses and ensure that potential Republican voters go to the polls.

“Obviously the voters want to meet the candidates,” Robb said. “So the easiest way is to go door to door. I think this is the only way you can really get one on one with a voter.”

The candidates specifically campaigned in south Columbia, an area where the three candidates had not canvassed in person before. In order to cover the most space, the candidates split up, each bringing a canvassing volunteer.

In the 9th District race, Luetkemeyer and Democratic candidate Judy Baker are locked in a tight contest for a seat that has been held by Republican Kenny Hulshof.

In the final days of the campaign, Luetkemeyer is emphasizing fiscal issues such as tax policy and resolving the financial crisis. Luetkemeyer is framing the discussion of tax policy around the 2001 federal tax cuts that aimed to reduce income and capital gains taxes.

“For most of the district, the economy is going to be the main issue,” Luetkemeyer said. “My opponent and I are about as far away as you can get on the tax issues.”

Schaefer is using the final days to question Democratic incumbent Chuck Graham’s effectiveness in office.

“If you don’t have effective representation it doesn’t matter what your positions is,” Schaefer said.

While Schaefer acknowledged that his campaign to unseat the incumbent would be difficult and that this election cycle might favor the Democrats, he said he believes that the race would be decided based on the individual candidates.

“When you get to down-ticket races, they are much more about the person than the party,” Schaefer said.

Tanner Smith, an MU senior who canvassed for the Republican candidates on Sunday, said he believes that Luetkemeyer has a lot of name recognition around the district.

“I feel like Blaine got his name out very well the last few weeks,” Smith said. “The people that I’ve talked to seem excited about him.”

To some voters, the candidates’ appearance conveyed a positive image, especially to Nicholas Golda, a Luetkemeyer supporter and a Columbia resident that received a visit from the candidates.

“I think him putting himself out there without a mouthpiece is kind of a bold thing to do,” Golda said. “Politicians should be able to field questions from voters without making gaffes and represent their positions well.

Other voters said that the candidates’ appearances helped show a determination of the candidates to connect to voters.

“It shows that he is making an effort to walk around the neighborhood,” said Sarah Gay, a Luetkemeyer supporter and a Columbia resident. “Even though the election is a couple of days away, he is still fighting.”

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