Local Republicans and legislators from around the state gather in Hannibal to meet candidates for Aug. 6 primary

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Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, candidate for Missouri Governor in the Aug. 6, spoke to a crowd Saturday morning at the Hannibal Nutrition Center. Eleven other Republican candidates for several offices spoke. Photo by Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Republican candidates running in the Aug. 6 Missouri Republican primary for several offices spoke on Saturday morning at the Hannibal Nutrition Center for Lincoln Day.

Lincoln Day is a yearly event across many counties in Missouri, and offers an opportunity for voters to meet their state and local candidates in a local setting. 

Eleven spoke to the crowd vying for elected offices. Missouri’s Governor candidates were Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ascroft, Lt. Gov Mike Kehoe, Missouri Senator Bill Eigel, and Army Veteran Chris Wright. 

Gov. Mike Parson is no longer eligible to run. Parson assumed the Missouri governor’s seat after Eric Greitens resigned in 2018, and was elected to another full term in 2020.

Mo. Rep. Louis Riggs introduced each candidate while Lacey Miller kept time, allowing each to speak for six minutes. Miller is running for Marion County Commissioner in the Western District. 

Ashcroft thanked the crowd for taking a chance on an engineer–not a politician–in the 2016 election for Secretary of State.

“I ran because I wanted to make a difference specifically with our elections. We’ve done that. I bring that up because a lot of people that run for positions they say a lot of stuff, but they don’t necessarily do what they said they would do, and what they say doesn’t conform with their actions,” he said.

Ashcroft said Missouri become one of the gold standards for U.S. elections in November 2022 when they passed a law requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote. 

“We outlawed ballot drop boxes, and paper ballots are now the official ballot of the state. We can now do audits of local election authorities to make sure that they are cleaning the voter rolls. I got to do that because of you. 

Ashcroft said he enjoyed putting federal agents in their places in 2022 when the Department of Justice sent agents to 64 jurisdictions and 24 states “because they believed that the people of the United States couldn’t vote without federal agents being in their polling places.”

“Missouri said no. And it was fun,” he said. “They came in before the election. They were double-masked. They were putting hand sanitizer on the gloves after they shook hands.”

Ashcroft said they smirked when he told them he couldn’t stop them.

“But then I said ‘The sheriff in town has a couple of deputies that would love to have fun with some Feds that don’t know the boundaries of the law and their authority.’ 

“We stopped it, and because Missouri stepped up, Florida also did. The reason I bring that up is almost 60 years ago—60 years ago this fall–-Ronald Reagan gave a speech and he talked about a time for choosing, and about what we are going to be as a country. 

“Are we going to be Republicans who truly believe in tax cuts? Or are we going to be Republicans who three years ago passed the largest tax increase in the history of the state and removed accountability for those tax dollars from the legislature?”

Ashcroft said unelected bureaucrats now decide how tax money is used. He said tax money allotted to MoDOT is not decided by legislators.

“For those of you in Northern Missouri who have a problem with how road money is used, your legislator doesn’t have the ability to vote on that budget to hold them accountable and make sure they don’t forget about you,” he said.

“Are we going to be Republicans who say, we’re about small government, or we’re going to continue to blow our budget?” he asked. “We’ve doubled it in the last five years.”

Ashcroft asserted his pro-life stance in every situation, and mentioned he is endorsed by the Missouri Right to Life. He told the story of his own child who was born in the second trimester.

“Every day that my wife was in the hospital for five weeks waiting for him to be born, they said he was going to die in the next 24 hours. They asked us we didn’t go to another hospital where they would provide different services,” he said.

Ashcroft said he also stood against explicit content in public libraries.

“The legislature couldn’t get anything done on that. So I put out a rule to hold them accountable and to make sure they could be held accountable if they do that, and then we could withhold funds if they wanted to.”

“I tried to make sure that if you had investments, they would actually be used the way you want them. In 49 states in this country, they can suggest investments that are designed to help the person who is giving you advice as opposed to doing what you want and maximizing your return. 

“I tried to get protections for Missourians to the legislature, and they refused so put out a rule. It said if you don’t tell Missourians, and get their permission and if you’re investing their money for your purposes instead of the maximum rate of return, we’ll come after you.

“I’m not here because I want to be the governor or want to be in politics, or because I want to have a great office. I was a 17-year-old kid who said I’m going to get a real job and go into engineering. I’m here because I’m worried about the future of our country. And I do not want to have to tell my children that the dream was lost because I refused to stand up. 

“I’m asking for your vote on August 6, because how you vote matters. And we have to change the course, not only of our state, but also our country. Our children are counting on us.”

Bill Eigel told the crowd his son recently enlisted in the Navy after generations and decades of Air Force veterans including eight years himself and 20 years for his father. He chuckled when he said he recently received a shirt says “Navy Dad.”

“I wore it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I don’t know how to feel about it,” he said to a room of laughter.

“Right now I’m running to be the next governor of the state and I’ve also been a small business owner in this state before I got into politics. So I know what it’s like to sign the front and the back of the check. 

I’ve been traveling around this state for the past year and a half talking to Republicans all over urban areas, suburban areas, rural areas, and they all say the same thing. They’re disappointed. They’re frustrated. They’re angry with the super majorities of Republicans down in Jefferson City that never seem to get anything done. 

“They want to know why we’re not leading this country. They want to know why they turn on their televisions in the morning and see other bold conservative governors in other big red states, leading their states and leading this country. 

“Why can’t we do that here? The answer is, of course, we have a status quo down in Jefferson City just like we do in Washington DC that doesn’t care about what you’re going through. They don’t care that your property taxes are higher. They don’t care that our schools are teaching our children to hate one another. They don’t care that we’ve got foreign countries coming in to buy up our land, they don’t care. They don’t value life. 

“They’re breaking down the fundamental building block of our society, which is the traditional American family, and they’re telling you that you ought to sit down and shut up and be happy about. Well, I have made a habit of the past seven years of standing up to that status quo. Extensively making everybody down there in Jefferson City greatly uncomfortable. 

“I want you to know that if you’re willing to support me for governor, the Missouri I’m thinking about is the one we keep getting promised every two years. It’s a Missouri where you don’t have to pay personal property tax anymore because we’re not going to charge you rent for owning a car anymore. 

“It’s a Missouri where we’re not going to allow any foreign country to buy one square inch of farmland in the state–yes, China. Missouri ought to be owned by Missourians and or at least Americans.” 

Eigel also said he wanted to spotlight election integrity in his campaign.

“I think the Missouri I’m talking about is going to get rid of those Joe Biden election voting machines that nobody around here really trusted. We’re gonna go back to the hand counting of ballots that has worked for this state for more than 100 years. That’s the Missouri I’m talking about.”

Eigel said thousands of illegal immigrants are coming the state and “suffocating our communities.”

“You know what I’m gonna do on my first day as governor of this state? I’m going to declare for what it is an invasion under Article four of the Missouri Constitution, and I’m going to activate the national guard, the Highway Patrol and every sheriff in this state to start deporting and removing every single one of those who shouldn’t be here back to where they came from. That’s the Missouri I’m talking about and we are going to lead this country,

“Now, when I first started this a couple years ago, there were a bunch of folks—and there really still are a bunch of folks—who say that a guy like me, or a group of patriots like us, can’t change the world. That we will never overcome the swamp. 

Eigel said he has been told many times that he–or a group of patriots–could “never overcome the swamp.”

“Don’t be afraid of that message. Don’t buy into that message. The only way the swamp can win is if they silence us. The only way the status quo can win is if you believe that they can,” he said.

Eigel recited his favorite Bible verse, Joshua 1:8, “Have I not commanded thee? Do not be afraid. Do not be dismayed. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you shall go.

“Let’s go, Missouri,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe said his journey to public office has been “unbelievable.”

“We had the honor to meet with President Trump in Florida and then again in New Hampshire when he won the primary. Hearing him talk about his vision for America made me reflect on the vision and the path I’ve had through life with a single mother. I was the youngest of six with no father. It was humble beginnings that most people wouldn’t have made it out alive–and many didn’t–in the neighborhood I lived in. 

“To go from there to standing before you today as your Lieutenant Governor who is running for governor–that’s an incredible journey. It’s a journey that only happens in this country, and there are many people in this room who have had the same journey,” he said.

Kehoe said he knows hard work and hard times, and he believes it is a good perspective to have as a policy holder.

“You know 35 years in small business, manufacturing, ethanol plant, retail for business. We’ve had a lot of experiences creating hundreds of jobs. And developing multiple companies across the state that–thank goodness–have been successful and have employed Many Missourians. Those are the opportunities as governor I want to continue to do for you,” he said.

Kehoe said his plan has four key areas including working with police departments to make communities safe, education and school choice, growing agricultural industry, and economic development.

“We have already assembled an emergency recruiting team together of law enforcement officials all across the state that are going to help us make sure that Missouri is the best at protecting our men and women in law enforcement and making our community safe,” he said.

Kehoe linked crime to illegal immigrants in the state.

“The numbers in Missouri are staggering with 77,000 illegal immigrants living in Missouri today. In just 2023 alone, our state spent $464 million on those illegal immigrants. I would rather spend money on our veterans, our teachers, or broadband infrastructure,” he said.

Kehoe reported that Parson sent additional border troops to add support to the Texas border through Missouri National Guard and volunteers from the Missouri Highway Patrol. “That’s how passionate some of our law enforcement agencies are,” he said.

Kehoe also stressed importance on education and giving parents parents and children “the choice to make sure they are going to the right institution.” He pointed in the crowd to Sen. and House Majority Leader Cindy O’Laughlin as another supporter of education and school choice.

“And of course, workforce development. Working with our career and technical centers is an incredible part of education. Agriculture is our number one industry with a $93 billion impact. I believe there’s room to grow that there’s about $25 billion worth of growth available out there. 

“We’re not going to annex Kansas or–god forbid–Illinois. So we have to make sure we get more production out of the existing land we have and bring younger people into agriculture and we can do that,” he said.

Kehoe said he wants to focus on economic development to make sure others had the same opportunity to succeed as he did. He said in his experience traveling for the state, crime is a number one topic.

“I just went to Germany in November on a trade mission for our state. I talked to five companies who have a footprint here and five who are thinking about going here. Number one and two issues were workforce development and ‘what’s crime like in the state?’ That’s what people are asking Internationally.

That’s also what people are asking here in our states. We need to make sure that we work on economic development and make sure our communities continue to thrive and grow. Look, I never thought I would own my own bicycle. So standing in front of you today is incredibly humbling. It’s a humbling process every day,” he said.

Kehoe said he is a “huge believer in life.” He also mentioned with a laugh that it will be even a bigger miracle when his fourth child moves out of the house.

Traveling the state and meeting Missourians, Kehoe said he goes to businesses, local farms, and into their households to understand what is important to them.

“What’s important to them is that they have somebody who understands the issues and values, the Christian conservative family values that Missouri was built on,” he said. 

Kehoe said he has 18 endorsements so far, including Missouri State Highway Patrol Troopers Association who he said has not made an endorsement in 42 years. 

Chris Wright, who will retire from 24-years of military service in June, asked veterans and first responders to stand for applause. He was also in law enforcement for nine years, and owned a construction company for 17 years.

Wright was happy to return to Hannibal for the second time, as he made a visit one year for the Chocolate Extravaganza. He mentioned that while chocolate isn’t his favorite food, the event was a “fun and interesting way to meet people.”  

“I’m a blue collar guy and still have calluses on my hands. Not as many because I’ve been campaigning for over a year but they’re still there,” he said.

“If I am elected governor, my administration is going to work with the legislature because it’s also important to know that it’s the legislature that makes the laws we just sign into bills. As a governor, you’ve got to be able to work with your legislature and be on the same page,” he said.

He also said he will put an emphasis on first responders such as law enforcement, nurses and firefighters. He also plans to tackle crime.

“We’ll never get rid of crime altogether, but whenever crime rises, everything else goes up. It’s our safety,” he said.

“Next one, teachers. I keep it very simple. If you’re a fourth grade math teacher, there’s two things you need to worry about: fourth grade math curriculum and the safety of your students. Everything else is garbage. It’s nonsense. Get it out of there. We don’t need it in our schools. 

“Our kids are not learning reading, writing and arithmetic as they should be. It’s very sad and we’ve got to get that fixed. We’ve got to right that,” he said.

Wright cited utility rates as problem as well. According to Wright, there are more than 4 million people in Missouri that are getting “decimated” by their electric bill by their gas bills, especially electric bills.

A spoke of a friend using Liberty Utilities who recently had an $800 electric bill for a 1,200 square-foot home.

“Liberty Utilities, Ameren Energy, this is what they’re doing to people. Single families, elderly–many just can’t handle it. They can’t handle that plus all the other stuff. That we’re getting decimated in our pocketbooks,” he said.

Human trafficking was another topic of Wright’s list.

“It’s more than just illegal people coming over the border. I’ll keep it clean, but it’s human trafficking, it’s terrorist, and It’s people who hate America. We’ve got to stop the border crossings. It’s not just because of illegals, but because of all the other things that come with it,” he said.

Wright also addressed “crippling” tax burdens.

“As long as we have a budget that we keep feeding with tax money, we’re never going to get those tax breaks. That’s just the reality of it; we’ve got to reduce the budget. The governor has a single line item veto authority. We’re gonna get to work on the budget,” he said. 

Other speakers included:

Lieutenant Governor candidates

  • Tim Baker, Franklin County Missouri Clerk
  • Lincoln Hough, Missouri Senator for District 30.

Secretary of State Candidates

  • Denny Hoskins, Missouri Senator for District 21
  • Shane Schoeller, Greene County Missouri Clerk
  • Adam Schwadron, Missouri Representative for District 105

Vivek Malek spoke as the incumbent for Missouri State Treasurer. Malek was sworn in as Missouri’s 48th State Treasurer in January 2023 to replace Scott Fitzpatrick who was appointed state auditor.

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