The Republican primary race for the 134th legislative seat is heating up between the Mayor of Republic and incumbent Rep. Jim Viebrock.
Republic Mayor Jim Collins seems to be campaigning hard to oust Viebrock, and he's certainly not pulling any punches, launching some tough criticisms at Viebrock.
He calls Viebrock a weak legislator, without clout, who hasn't produced. "I can't think of a major issue that he has helped the 134th district on," Collins said. "I just don't think we have a strong representative up there."
"I will be one voice . . . but I got a good set of lungs, I can be a loud voice," Collins added as he went door-to-door in the upscale Rivercut neighborhood Monday.
Collins says the one bill he would want to pass as a lawmaker is making the state penalties for meth crimes just as stiff as federal charges. While campaigning, he says he also hears a lot about immigration. He wants to crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegals and withdraw all social services from illegal immigrants, except emergency care.
Bob Bilyeu, a longtime educator endorsed by Greene County Sheriff Jack Merritt, says he would focus on how to deal with the pending teacher shortage, and making the classroom more appealing for teaching candidates.
Unlike Collins, Bilyeu says wouldn't say a bad word about Viebrock. "I've voted for him before and if I lose to him, I'll probably vote for him again," Bilyeu said. Bilyeu says he doesn't differ much in principle with Viebrock on the issues, he just believes he would be a capable legislator.
Bilyeu and Collins both said they would support a special session to reinstate a Medicaid program for the working disabled.
Viebrock has not returned repeated calls for comment, but it seems some of Collins opponents were energized by the story that aired Monday.
One Republic resident wrote us an e-mail calling Collins, "the shut-up Mayor." The writer said that Collins recently trashed a Republic alderman by having him physically thrown out of a city council meeting, because the alderman asked questions the mayor didn't like.
"I wasn't surprised to see him attack another good man like Jim Viebrock in order to make himself look better," wrote the Republic resident. "Maybe instead of criticizing Jim Viebrock, he should work on being able to tell people what he would do for us if he got to go to Jefferson City, heaven forbid."
This resident was clearly turned off my Collins' tough attacks on Viebrock, and said it is clear that residents support Viebrock by evidence of the overwhelming number of signs around town.
In addition to all of this, I received a voicemail message from a viewer urging me to attend the next Board of Alderman meeting in Republic this coming Monday. "You might want to go," said the person who left the voicemail, not identifying himself or leaving a phone number.
What is going to happen in Republic on Monday?