Howell County News/Nate Hudson

18 Candidates Speak at Howell County Lincoln Day

The annual Republican party fundraising dinner held on Saturday drew a large crowd as voters heard from eighteen candidates or their spokesperson. The Howell County Lincoln Day dinner was presided over by John Williams, head of the Howell County Republican Party. This year's dinner was slightly different than previous years. There was no keynote speaker, and the live auction was held after the first speaker spoke instead of at the end of the event.
Those gathered heard from those running for senator, District 8 representative, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, 33rd district senator, and 154th district representative.
Across all speakers, some points were shared among all of the candidates. These included a pro-life stance, supporting the second amendment, border and immigration issues, and election security.
The first speaker of the night was Col. Jack Jackson speaking for Sen. Josh Hawley. Jackson told the crowd that Hawley sent his warmest regards and is working for them. He said that Hawley was among the top three senators that Democrats were after, along with senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rick Scott of Florida. Jackson spoke about siding with Israel in regards to the current Gaza conflict, saying the Bible says they will win.
District 154 Rep. David Evan spoke for Rep. Jason Smith. Evans read from a script prepared by Smith. In it, Smith said he voted against Ukraine funding and voted for Israel funding. He said America needs former president Donald Trump back in office and, when meeting with the former president, Smith told him that “Missouri is Trump Country.” Smith blamed many of the current problems facing the country on President Joe Biden.
The next speaker was Grant Heithold, who is running against Jason Smith. Heithold spoke longer than Evans did, and this included introducing himself to the crowd. Heithold mentioned that the government debt has been rising at a drastic rate, roughly $100 trillion every hundred days since 2019. He said it needed to stop. He said he would like to dismantle the FBI, and he doesn't trust the nation's intelligence agencies.
The first in this group was Bill Eigel, represented by speaker Devan Daniels. Eigel said the state legislature is “bowing to Democrats.” He spoke on RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) in the party and complained about being dismissed from committee assignments. Eigel and Denny Hoskins, who is running for Secretary of State and spoke later in the evening, were ousted from their committee chair assignment in January 2024. Eigel said he wanted to remove property taxes and ban foreign ownership
of Missouri land. Daneil’s speech finished with saying Eigel would want to run Missouri as a “sovereign state”.
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft spoke next. A large part of his speech was on his steps toward election security, noting voter ID laws, paper ballots, and making voting drop boxes illegal. Ashcroft suggested removing state income tax and cited problems with the state budget. He also commented on crime in the state, advocating for more police. Ashcroft also noted wanting to put parents first and supported school voucher programs.
Howell County Collector of Revenue Janet Crow spoke for Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe for his run for governor. In this, Kehoe was said to support Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers that were at the Mexico border and said Missouri needs to put veterans before immigrants. He wants Missouri to be harder on immigrants, blaming them for the fentanyl crisis in the state. Kehoe wants to take a stance against “George Soros-funded prosecutors” in the state and to put education above “wokeness” in schools.
The final speaker running for governor was Chris Wright of Joplin. He began his speech taking a moment to honor all the veterans who were in attendance and followed by noting his own military background. Wright made a point of wanting to work with legislators to get laws passed and wanted to take a stronger stance on crime, if elected. He noted wanting to dismantle the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, DESE, saying it answers to the federal government. Wright said
the Missouri budget was too large and that he supports single subject bills only, saying multiple subject bills, or bills with “ballot candy,” were wrong.
The next speaker was the only candidate present who is running for Lieutenant Governor, Tim Baker. Baker took time to introduce himself, noting his current position as Franklin County Clerk and how he gained the position after four failed runs for county commission. He noted priorities for the expansion of the Buy Missouri program, an initiative that supports buying goods made, manufactured, or grown in Missouri. Baker also noted the importance of teaching civics to students by visiting 3 rd and 4 th grade
classes and speaking on what a county clerk does.
The first of four speakers running for Secretary of State was the youngest candidate of the night, Valentina Gomez. The 25-year-old real estate investor and Colombian immigrant came out swinging for “corrupt politicians”, calling them crooks and pedophiles. Gomez also noted support from Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz.
The next speaker was Shane Schoeller, also running for Secretary of State. He noted election issues from the 2000 presidential election, saying St. Louis polls stayed open to 10:00 p.m. with voters were getting calls from Democrat candidates, telling them to go vote. Schoeller wants more transparency in elections, he said, allowing citizens to watch vote counters and would want voter signature verification.
Adam Schwadron is also running for Secretary of State. He said he is glad that mail-in votes are banned and wants to stop “bloated” voter rolls. He suggested there be a voter registration expiration that required renewal when voters renew their driver's license. Schwadron also supports passing laws that would prevent non-citizens from voting in Missouri elections, a law that is already in effect in the state .
The final candidate running for secretary of state was District 21 State Senator Denny Hoskins, given by a stand-in. His stand-in gave one of the shorter speeches of the night but highlighted voting integrity and non-citizen voting. Hoskins’ biggest talking point was over his distrust of public libraries. His speaker accused public libraries of having X-rated material, saying tax dollars should not be used to fund them.
In a short speech, Wendell Bailey spoke for Vivek Malek, who is running for state treasurer. Malek was appointed by Governor Mike Parson for this position in 2023. Bailey largely spoke about the work Malek has been doing on the MOBUCKS program. The program loans money for small businesses, agriculture, and governmental entities in the state. Malek has been working to better fund the program.
The next two speakers are running for the seat that Karla Eslinger vacated as the legislative session ended. The first speaker was District 155 Rep. Travis Smith. Smith’s key was broadband internet access expansion in rural Missouri. He noted that Missouri youth are a $6 million investment, and many are leaving the area after finishing school due to a lack of broadband, mentioning the connection between reliable high-speed internet and remote working. Smith also mentioned his support for the
Second Amendment, saying the government should not be more equipped than its citizens. He also said the Republican infighting needs to end.
State Representative for the 138 th District, Brad Hudson, spoke next. Hudson noted his background raised on a farm and working as a pastor before moving to his work to the statehouse. He bragged on the passage of the SAFE act that made it illegal for physicians to prescribe hormone therapy or perform gender reassignment surgery on minors. Hudson said he was told he was the most hated Republican by Democrats. As a state senator, he said he would support single-subject bills.
State Rep. David Evan's now-vacant seat has three contenders. The first speaker was Lisa Durnell, a newcomer to the political stage. She said she was a Christian conservative and, “The secret to happiness is freedom, and the secret to freedom is courage”, a quote attributed to Greek philosopher Thucydides. Durnell said she wanted to protect Constitutional rights, protect children and the unborn, and limit the government's role. She said wants to protect property rights and advocate for farmers and ranchers.
The next speaker, Larry Lindeman, was the longest speaker of the night, speaking for more than six minutes before noting his background or political interests, instead acknowledging family, friends, David Evans and Wendell Bailey. Lindeman said he had a degree in biology would use that to support and generate legislation dealing with genetics, saying “If you possess a Y-chromosome, you have no business participating in women's sports”. Lindeman said he is pro-life and a member of the National Rifle Association. He said he is the only person running for this position that is not actively soliciting donations.
The final speaker of the night was Mark Collins. Collins is a former Howell County Commissioner. He said he knows Class 3 county problems and would support the expansion of US Highway 63 from Rolla to the Arkansas line into a four-lane road. Collins noted the invasive Bradford Pear problem in the state and would like to see the expansion of their removal and the ban of selling the plant. He said he is strong on crime said school choice needs to be looked at.
The primary election for these candidates will be held on August 6 th , followed by the general election on November 5th .
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