A total of 22 candidates for U.S. Senate will appear on Missouri primary election ballots on Aug. 7. Although the front-runners are widely viewed to be incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican State Attorney General Josh Hawley, the other 20 candidates are trying to get their messages out and sway voters from their parties to give them the nomination.
There are 11 Republicans, seven Democrats, one Libertarian and two Green Party candidates. Here's a look at the entire slate in the order they appear on party ballots. Those nominated will move on to the November general election.
Education: U.S. Air Force Academy
Occupation: Author, restaurant owner, former assistant dean of aviation at University of Central Missouri
Tony Monetti almost died in Operation Desert Storm. He was flying a B-52 bomber when he was hit, bringing the plane to within 50 feet of the ground.
"You know the 'bombs bursting in air' line of the national anthem?" Monetti said. "I felt that there."
After that, he vowed to devote his life to Christ. Now, the restaurant owner, veteran and Christian author said his life experiences are what make him the best candidate for U.S. Senate.
Monetti, who has been endorsed by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, said the United States needs to stick to its Judeo-Christian roots. He opposes abortion and thinks requiring churches to perform same-sex marriages violates free speech.
He's also an advocate for mental health. He wants Missouri to show "national leadership in mental health" by establishing a mental health center in every county. Monetti's son, Nico, has bipolar disorder and hosts a mental health-centered podcast.
If elected, Monetti wants to fight for term limits for members of Congress and prevent them from getting paid if they fail to pass the budget.
Education: Fine arts degree from Missouri State University
Occupation: Owner and chief executive of Stonegait LLC, a consulting firm specializing in photo and video services
Before Austin Petersen decided to run for U.S. Senate, he made around 4,000 personal calls to his supporters.
"In a way, I was asking their consent to represent them," Petersen said.
Petersen knows he's not the establishment candidate, so he plans on using a grassroots approach to his campaign. He said it's important that senators listen to constituents and know how they feel about issues.
When his supporters said he should run for U.S. Senate as a Republican, he listened. Petersen ran for president in 2016 as a Libertarian but aligned with the GOP for his Senate campaign, citing his anti-abortion and pro-constitution platform.
Petersen claims to be the strongest Second Amendment candidate. He believes any gun restrictions infringe on Second Amendment rights. He wants to expand those rights by abolishing the National Firearms Act and the Hughes Amendment.
"No tragedy justifies taking people's rights away," Petersen said.
Petersen made news this week when he announced he would raffle off a machine capable of fabricating a "ghost gun" untraceable by law enforcement.
Education: History degree from Stanford University, 2002; law degree from Yale University, 2006.
Occupation: Missouri attorney general
Josh Hawley, who was elected Missouri attorney general in 2016, grew up in Lexington. After earning his history and law degrees, he clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, represented the owners of Hobby Lobby in the Supreme Court Case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and taught law at MU.
If elected to the Senate, Hawley says he would focus on increasing wages, securing the border and making health care more affordable. He would work to bring jobs back from overseas and says the country needs immigration reform that would protect workers. He also supports President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the southern border and thinks young people should be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26.
Hawley is a proponent of religious freedom. "It is vital in this time to ensure religious believers are not silenced," Hawley said.
Hometown: Jefferson City
Education: Degree in mathematics from Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi and a theology degree from Howard Payne University
Occupation: Former pastor; assistant sales manager
Fred Ryman is no longer actively campaigning, according to his Facebook page, but his name will remain on the ballot for the Senate Republican primary election on Aug. 7.
Ryman believes in protecting private property rights and resisting eminent domain, according to his website. He also supports abandoning health insurance companies in favor of health care co-ops and tax-deductible health savings accounts.
On his website, Ryman advocates for the repeal of the 16th and 17th amendments. Repealing the 16th Amendment would get rid of the income tax, which Ryman would replace with a per capita tax. States would decide what and how to tax, and if they did not meet their quota, they would lose the right to vote in Congress until it is made up.
Repealing the 17th Amendment would eliminate the direct election of senators, who would then be appointed by state legislatures, as they were before the amendment was ratified.
Hometown: Jefferson City
Education: Bachelor's degree in political science and minor in legal studies from Lincoln University
Occupation: Assistant for state representative
Christina Smith is running for U.S. Senate and hopes to the first female Republican senator in Missouri.
Smith said she is running because she did not want any of the other candidates to represent herself or Missourians. She has five platforms of focus: truth, families, church, Israel and work.
"Faith is so important to me," Smith said. "It's important to grow and listen to God's voice."
If elected, Smith hopes to make it easier for Missourians to find "enjoyable work," according to her website. She also wants to lift government mandates to private companies.
"I believe that paying to private companies is unconstitutional," Smith said.
Smith said her overall goal as a public servant is to help everyone.
Occupation: Inner-city pastor
Kristi Nichols has dubbed her campaign "We the People 2018" and focuses on health care, faith and family, the Second Amendment, taxes, standing with Israel and states' rights.
Nichols has worked as an inner-city pastor for over 19 years and ran for U.S. Senate against Roy Blunt in the 2016 primary election.
She notes on her website that she opposes abortion and is "pro-family" and "pro-freedom." Nichols also supports constitutional carry and campus carry.
Nichols pledges on her website to repeal Obamacare and secure the borders by building the wall.
Hometown: St. Charles
Bradley Krembs identifies as a Republican but more specifically refers to himself as the “preamble candidate.” He dedicates a lot of writing to the Missouri Constitution and its preamble on his website, but since Krembs did not respond to interview requests, his exact platform is unclear.
Krembs seems dedicated to national security issues, as he informed readers of his website of “various missile attacks” on Jefferson City by an al-Qaeda offshoot he calls “Layndoy.” He also said a "biological/biochemical” attack happened in Jefferson City in early 2018.
Krembs’ website covers many issues of state and national importance, including gun control, global diplomacy, national defense, abortion, health care, education, terrorism, trade, jobs and right to work.
For example, on the topic of abortion, Krembs said on his website that husbands should have rights regarding the decision to abort a pregnancy due to “vast differences between male and female,” including “estrogen factors and mood swings.” He went on to say that he applauds legislative efforts in this area, including “separation of rights in cases of rape and child-support mandates, hopefully to encourage full acceptance and consequences such (rape) entails as well.”
Krembs has a variety of campaign materials available in return for campaign contributions on his website. A donation of $59.23 would net a campaign T-shirt, while a donation of $1,740.50 would get a campaign pamphlet.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002797598742 (Kenneth Eugene Patterson)
Kenneth Patterson has no campaign website and no documentation with the Federal Election Commission, and he did not respond to various attempts to reach him for an interview. All information is from Patterson’s Twitter and Facebook posts.
According to Patterson’s Facebook page, he was born in 1937 in Indiana. His early work experience consisted of military service, factory work, oil field work, and then “basic electronic schoolin(sic) in Chicago.” After retiring from Lucent Technologies in 1999, he attended community college and worked various jobs in Missouri. His Facebook page lists "sales at Dolan Real Estate," "sales at Patterson At" and "Grate Grandpa at Patterson Real Estate."
On the same day he announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate on Twitter, Patterson also tweeted his views about protests over the acquittal of the police officer who shot Anthony Lamar Smith: “ONLY ONE REASON; FOR CLOSING DOWN A HIGHWAY. ENEMY IS HERE. YOU NEED TO GO HOME, ITS (sic) SAFE THERE, HELP OUR PEOPLE.”
In February, Patterson seemed to tweet his support for President Donald Trump’s idea for a border wall with Mexico: “AFTER THE WALL, LETS HAVE FAMILY'S, RETURNED TO MEXICO MAKE THAT A FUTURE, STATE. LOOK AT ALL OF THE JOB'S CLEANING UP. IF YOU ARE AN ENEMY, ITS TIME TO GO HOME. WE COULD DRAFT ALL HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLAGE STUDENT'S, AFTER GRADUATION'S. THAT WAS THEY ARE ALL THEN ARMED, ALSO,”
The Missourian was unable to contact Brian Hagg. His social media presence consists almost entirely of meandering Twitter and Facebook posts about blasphemy, Nazis, Satan and Jesus. His most recent Facebook post was in 2015 and his most recent tweet in September. Information about why he's running for Senate was unavailable.
Education: ALB degree in government from Harvard Extension School
Occupation: Managing director at Talosorion
Courtland Sykes is campaigning to "fulfill Trump's America first agenda," according to his website. (The Missourian was unable to contact him.) Sykes' political intentions include:
- Opposing gun control.
- Opposing abortion rights.
- Advocating for strong anti-immigration policies.
- Opposing Common Core curriculum in schools.
Sykes has also pledged to serve a maximum of two terms as senator if he's elected. Sykes believes that "public office is a service, not a career" and "career politics are swamp politics."
Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Sykes joined the Navy and served as an intelligence analyst until 2011. He is managing director at Talosorion, a defense consulting company that is focused on "bridging diplomatic and military strategies," according to the company website.
Education: Associate's of applied science degree in mass communication and broadcasting from St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.
Occupation: Self-employed commercial real estate broker
Peter Pfeifer says he is running for the U.S. Senate to represent real Missourians.
"I looked at the (primary) ballot and didn't see any candidates I thought could represent me," Pfeifer said.
Pfeifer's first experience with government came when he served on the Brentwood City Council from 2000 to 2002. Born and raised in Missouri, Pfeifer is running to serve "other like-minded folks."
Improving the infrastructure of the Mississippi River is one of the pillars of his campaign. He also considers himself 100 percent against abortion and would like abortion laws to be handled by the states. Pfeifer also supports a consistent, uniform gun code throughout all 50 states.
Carla (Coffee) Wright
Hometown: St. Louis
Education: Early childhood education degree from Forest Park College
Occupation: Director of the Saint Louis Inner-City Culture Center Enterprise
Carla "Coffee" Wright is only running for U.S. Senate because the presidency is unavailable. That's according to Ziah Reddick, one of Wright's campaign workers.
Wright is a member of the Universal African Peoples Organization and believes in proportionate political representation in government. Of the 100 U.S. Senators in office, only three are black. Wright would like to change that.
Wright also considers herself a national advocate for seniors, the homeless and the missing. Improving seniors' home care and decreasing homelessness are some of her primary campaign issues.
Wright also hopes to provide universal health care, increase the minimum wage, end mass incarceration and decriminalize marijuana if elected.
Wright has a degree in early childhood education from Forest Park College.
Hometown: St. Louis
Occupation: Former health insurance verification specialist and retail store manager
Education: Associate in arts with a focus in history from Saint Louis Community College
As an employee in the health insurance industry, Angelica Earl said she saw firsthand the issues with the nation's policies concerning health care. As a candidate for the Senate, her main concerns include universal health care, corrections to the criminal justice system and campaign finance reform. She said her own campaign has been, and will continue to be, funded through individual contributions.
Earl said she especially wants to protect the state's small farm towns from control by monopolies, something she said McCaskill hasn't done enough to prevent.
"I think that's something that is very important," Earl said. "I don't think it's something (McCaskill) is currently doing — breaking up these monopolies that are hurting almost every aspect of Missouri right now."
Before working in the health insurance industry, Earl said she worked as a manager for various retail stores for 15 years. Earl said she is focused on organizing her campaign now, and she plans to travel to more areas outside of St. Louis in the coming weeks.
Leonard Steinman II
Hometown: Jefferson City
Background: Veteran, businessman and former truck driver
Leonard Steinman II is no stranger to elections. Although he could not be reached for comment, he told the News Tribune in Jefferson City that this will be his ninth campaign for office.
Steinman appeared at a Boone County Muleskinners forum in 2016 during his bid for governor. He was eventually beaten by Chris Koster in the Democratic primary, in which he got less than 4 percent of the vote.
During that forum, Steinman said keeping prisoners on death row is expensive and he would suggest using a firing squad as a quick and painless method of execution. Steinman also said at the time that the state's biggest problem is lobbyists "paying people off in our representation."
Hometown: St. Charles
John Hogan is making his 11th bid for public office since 1980. He has run for state senator, state representative, St. Louis County executive and the 2nd District U.S. congressional seat. He won the Democratic nomination for Congress in 2002 when he was unopposed but lost to Republican Todd Akin in that year's general election.
Hogan could not be reached for comment, and he has no recent Internet presence. His Facebook page shows brief posts about his 2008 congressional bid. He describes his politics as moderate on that page.
In 2006 he published a comedic and at times risque video about his congressional campaign on Youtube.
Travis Gonzalez is upping the ante in his run for U.S. Senate after trying in 2012 and 2016 to win the 7th and 6th district state representative seats, respectively. Among the major planks in his platform are:
Modeling higher education after K-12 education and making it free unless the student fails to earn a degree within a certain time frame.
- Phasing in increases in the minimum wage until it reaches $25 per hour, then tying it to the cost-of-living index thereafter.
- Providing universal health care.
- Combating climate change and investing in solar and wind energy.
- Keeping guns away from criminals and those with mental illnesses.
- Opening the country's borders to immigrants from anywhere.
- Simplifying the tax code.
- Establishing global free trade.
Gonzalez could not be reached for comment.
Occupation: Retired mail carrier and U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, freelance marking consultant
Faust said he became interested in running for public office after seeing President Donald Trump blame everyone except those in power for the death of several Florida children. He said he wants to implement changes that will make the world better for generations to come, not just those that will affect the immediate future.
"Honestly it's for the next generation," he said of his campaign. "It's for my grandkids mostly. We're doing things in America now that aren't very healthy for them."
Faust is concerned primarily with improving the environment and education. If there's one issue at the top of his platform, it's fixing national debt.
"This politician will never ever vote for a budget that doesn't balance," he said. "There's no excuse for it not to be balanced."
He identifies as a social liberal but said he is moderate about fiscal policy. He spent a total of 33 years in the military.
Hometowns: Houston and Lebanon
Twitter: @clairecmc and @McCaskill4MO
Education: Bachelor's degree in political science and law degree from MU
Occupation: Incumbent U.S. senator
Claire McCaskill is nearing the end of her second six-year term as U.S. senator. She was born and raised in Missouri and began her political career in 1982 when she was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives. She was Jackson County prosecutor from 1993 to 1999 and she created some of the first drug courts and domestic violence units in the country, according to her website. She was Missouri's state auditor from 1999 to 2007.
Health care, education and the economy are among the primary issues in McCaskill's re-election platform.
In addition to pushing for a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, McCaskill would like to see improvements to former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, according to her website. She also has advocated for better and more accessible health care for veterans.
McCaskill believes a decent education should be accessible and affordable to everyone. She supports student loan forgiveness, which would allow public school teachers to have their college debt forgiven after 10 years of teaching. She hopes that will motivate more people to become educators.
McCaskill says much of her work in the Senate has focused on helping businesses prosper and grow.
Education: Attended Central Bible College; earned a master's degree in entertainment business at Full Sail University, attended doctoral classes at Northcentral University.
Occupation: ecommerce analyst for Assemblies of God
Japheth Campbell was active in politics during high school but moved toward ministry in college. After the 2016 election, he didn’t like “which way we were going” as a country and decided to run. He also felt underrepresented by Republican candidates and found he aligned more with the Libertarian party, which shared his core beliefs of “individual rights, limited government, and free enterprise,” he said on his website.
He wants to change the way state representatives are elected so they better represent the range of voters, and he wants to maintain a balanced budget by cutting spending for the next five years.
“Take back the power,” is his campaign slogan. He said the federal government has overstepped its control.
He works for the Assemblies of God, the same place he was a youth minister in college. He said that although his faith is at his core, religion is a choice for each individual to make.
“I believe the government should not be interfering in people’s lives,” he said.
Hometown: Kansas City
Education: Bachelor's degrees in business and psychology
Occupation: Retired, worked in technical services at Sprint for 14 years
Jo Crain has always been a “political watcher,” she said, but she was inspired to run for the U.S. Senate due to a growing dissatisfaction with American politics and politicians. After seeing her grandchildren struggle with crippling student loan debt and medical bills, she said, “This is not who I want America to be.”
Crain has been active in the Women’s Political Caucus and the American Civil Liberties Union's People Power movement to help mobilize voters’ rights. She also supported the Occupy movement in 2012 and the Black Lives Matter movement more recently.
As a politician, she hopes to create “a better world for our kids,” she said. Key components of her campaign are securing health care for all and cutting down on corporate campaign donations and our government’s military spending.
Politicians who take money from big donors are bound by “Goldman’s handcuffs” and can’t turn on their donors, she said.
As for her campaign and what she stands for, she said, “I’m hoping I can at least make a noise.”
Hometown: St. Louis
Education: Doctoral degree in Sanskrit religious literature from the University of Pennsylvania; master's degree in religious studies for University of California-Santa Barbara; master's degree in social science and bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of Chicago.
Occupation: Co-founder of Washington University Co-operative and political activist with several local and national organizations including, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, the Student-Worker Alliance (at Washington University and Webster University), Occupy Wall Street, Missouri Job with Justice and the AFL-CIO.
Jerome Bauer has made numerous bids for elected political office, including unsuccessful runs for a seat on the St. Louis Board of Aldermen in 2015 and 2017. Now, Bauer has announced his run for a U.S. Senate seat on the Green Party ticket.
Bauer's campaign platform has several broad points, including:
- Ending war and banning nuclear weapons
- Providing free public education
- Forgiving student loan debt
- Ending mass incarceration and the war on drugs
Bauer said he is open to talking to "anyone about anything" and will "not exploit sensitive personal or cultural issues to get votes."
He said he'd be willing to work with both major parties to accomplish those goals.
While Bauer is hopeful about his chances, he said he will support Crain if she becomes the party's Senate nominee.
"We Greens work as a team," he said. "The Green Party will unite behind the victor, and I'll be campaigning just as hard for Jo Crain as I have been for myself if she wins the election."
Missourian reporters Siobhan Conners, Sam Nelson, Emily Aiken, Cary Littlejohn, Ryan Goode, Kaleigh Feldkamp, Noah Higgins-Dunn, Matthew Hall, Allyson Vasilopulos, Margaret Austin and Kathryn Palmer contributed to this report.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.