Incumbents running for Senate opens three House seats

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- With all three of Southeast Missouri's Senate seats open this year, a trio of area Republican state representatives are looking for promotions to the upper chamber and creating vacancies in the House of Representatives.

The question of who becomes the next representative of the 158th District, which includes most of the city of Cape Girardeau, will be decided in a three-way Republican primary on Aug. 3 as no Democrats have filed for the office.

The hopefuls are Phil Brinson, the owner of Buckner Brewing Co. in Cape Girardeau; Nathan Cooper, a local lawyer; and Eugene "Pete" Frazier III, a social studies teacher at Cape Girardeau Central High School.

All three candidates say that the formula for distributing state money to local school districts is broken and needs to be overhauled. Each maintains that at least a portion of the overall pot of education funds be distributed to districts on a per-pupil basis.

On transportation, the candidates oppose raising taxes to fund road improvements. Cooper and Brinson call for ending the so-called "diversion" of highway funds to other state agencies. Of the $197 million distributed outside of the Missouri Department of Transportation in fiscal year 2004, however, 98 percent went to the State Highway Patrol and the Department of Revenue -- agencies that are constitutionally entitled to a share of the road fund. A voter-approved constitutional amendment would be required to wean those agencies from transportation funds.

The 158th District is currently served by House Majority Floor Leader Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, who is running for the 27th District Senate seat.

In the 159th District, two Democrats and three Republicans are vying to replace outgoing state Rep. Rob Mayer of Dexter.

The Democratic contenders are Bruce Wooley, a former teacher and football and wrestling coach at Dexter High School, and Ryan William Holder of Advance.

Republican hopefuls are Dexter real estate agent Billy Pat Wright, former Stoddard County Associate Commissioner Jerry Elder of Bloomfield and retired Baptist pastor Don Stephens of Advance.

The Democratic and Republican primary winners will meet in the Nov. 2 general election.

The 159th District represents the northern half of Stoddard County, the southwest third of Cape Girardeau County and a small portion of Wayne County. Incumbent state Rep. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, is running for the Senate in the 25th District.

Perryville optometrist Steven Tilley and Farmington businessman Gary Romine are seeking the Republican nomination in the 106th District, which covers parts of Perry, Ste. Genevieve and St. Francois counties. The winner will face Democrat David Cramp of Farmington in November.

Incumbent state Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, is running for the 3rd District Senate seat.

mpowers@semissourian.com

(573) 635-4608

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