Republicans privately say this was supposed to be the year Shane Schoeller finally got his due, easily cruising to the G.O.P. nomination in the 139th legislative district.
But now Schoeller is locked in a 3-way primary race, where one of his opponents carries a popular political name in the district.
Schoeller is running against Karen Roark, Rep. Brad Roark's mother, and media consultant Joe Pyles.
I got to catch up with Schoeller today as he was going door-to-door in the 139th. Refreshingly, Schoeller wouldn't say anything even close to disparaging about either of his G.O.P. rivals. He seems not to hold a grudge or take anything for granted. Instead, he focused on issues and experience.
"The main difference is experience. I have it on the federal, state and local level," Schoeller said referring to his work for John Ashcroft, Kit Bond and both Matt and Roy Blunt.
"Karen Roark is running a good race. Joe Pyles is a nice man, very friendly," Schoeller said.
Schoeller said he spoke to Rep. Brad Roark about his mother running and said there were no hard feelings on either side. "I said to Brad, that's what's great about our country. Anybody can run," Schoeller recalled.
Just a note . . . I have contacted several top G.O.P. officials about ways to get in touch with Karen Roark to get her views. I have not received calls back yet. Any tips on how to get in touch with Ms. Roark would be greatly appreciated. Maybe I'm just bad at tracking down campaign sites?
Regarding Pyles, Schoeller said he believes he is more conservative than Pyles. "I think Joe may be a little more moderate than I am. I don't know if that's the message for this district. It's fairly conservative."
Here's Schoeller on the issues:
Medicaid Cuts - He'd vote to reinstate the MAWD program for working people with disabilities, but wouldn't say the Medicaid cuts went too far. "I think it is a smart investment to give the working disabled a chance to work. Anytime you have reforms, unfortunate things happen, I understand that."
Special Session - He'd only support a special session to reinstate Medicaid if it was held during the veto session so it wouldn't cost taxpayers any extra money.
Minimum Wage Hike - He said he'd only support a minimum wage hike as part of a larger package that would include tax breaks for businesses. "That's the only circumstance I'd support it," Schoeller said.
Stem Cell Amendment - He is against the stem cell initiative because he said it's a controversial proposal that destroys human life. "It's not a smart choice for Missouri. I certainly believe an embryo is a human life. Adult stem cells offer so much more results." What about embryos that are going to be discarded anyway? Schoeller is against using any type of embryos for research. "Once you do that, you hit a slippery slope. My position is firm on these issues."
License Fee Office Reform - This may be a touchy topic for Schoeller because his wife operates a fee office in Nixa. He said he does not yet have a position on Rep. Mark Wright's plan to change the way the offices are awarded and run. "I haven't taken a position, I'd have to see the details but so much has been mischaracterized about these license offices. Unfortunately it has become an issue, but for me it is already out there. My wife has one office in Nixa, but we didn't ask for it. We were approached about running it and I encouraged my wife to do it. People rarely ask me about it, most aren't interested in it."
Biggest Issue for #139 Voters - Iraq . . . You read it right, Iraq. Of all the issues Schoeller hears about, he said he gets the most questions, comments and concern about the war. As a potential state lawmaker, Schoeller obviously doesn't have much control over that issue, but he said that's what people want to talk about. "People have a lot of different opinions, but overall they want victory, a conclusion, some type of closure."
Here's his campaign website . . . http://www.electschoeller.com/
I appreciate the heads-up on it. As much as I googled and tried other searches, I couldn't find it.
Schoeller said while Roark has name identification, his biggest strength is organization. "I feel like I've done all the things necessary to win this race," Schoeller said. But he admits that getting people energized about voting in the middle of vacation season is difficult. "It's very hard in a primary. I hear people all the time say, 'When's that election again?,'" Schoeller said.
Of all the politicians he has worked for Schoeller said he's learned the most from his four years serving as a legislative aide to Rep. Roy Blunt. "He helped me set priorities and figure out what can and can't be done," Schoeller said. "I learned the most important thing is keeping your word to people. If you can't help them, you have to tell them that. It's better to tell them instead of telling them you'll look into it and you never get back to them. People will respect that," Schoeller said.
Candid comments from what seems to be a solid candidate for the G.O.P. in the 139th.
This primary may come down to how much a name is worth.