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Several lesser-known names to appear on Mo. primary ballot next week

Monday, July 28, 2008

On Aug. 5, Missouri voters will go to the polls to make their primary choices for statewide offices, Congress, legislative seats and county offices.

Near the top of the ticket, they will see some familiar names -- Attorney General Jay Nixon, State Treasurer Sarah Steelman and U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof running for governor, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder seeking a second term. But there will also be some names they don't recognize, such as Jen Sievers of Jackson, who is making her third bid for governor in the Republican primary.

Candidates like Sievers labor in relative obscurity, at times feeling like the unwanted intruder in an insider's game. Most have raised little or no money, either filing with the Missouri Ethics Commission that they will spend less than $500 or reporting just a few thousand dollars, at most, in campaign cash. But the idea that a candidate who runs with little money and no name recognition can win nomination to a statewide office, or win the office itself, isn't too farfetched.

James J. Askew was a perennial Democratic candidate for Secretary of State who won his party's nomination in 1988 after several tries. And Judi Moriarty, the county clerk for Pettis County at the time, won the 1992 Democratic nomination for Secretary of State and the November election despite spending little money on the primary or the fall campaigns.

And Askew almost won the 2000 nomination for the same office, losing by about 7 percentage points.

Sievers has not done as well, scoring 9.6 percent and 3.1 percent of the vote, respectively, in her two previous bids in 2000 and 2004. This year's race will be the last, the 74-year-old said.

"If they don't get me in this time, I won't be able to help them," she said. "If they get me in there, I will be able to help a lot of people who desperately need it."

The media doesn't respect candidates who don't spend large amounts of money on advertising, Sievers said. That leaves the lesser-known candidates struggling to get their message out, she said.

"Somebody needs to clean house," Sievers said. "There needs to be new blood in there and down-to-earth common sense. The taxpayers are the people who are paying the salary of the governor and there just needs to be somebody in there for the people."

A statewide poll conducted early this month shows Sievers with about 5 percent of the vote. Sievers and the other lesser-known candidate, Scott Long, both showed their best results in the Kansas City region. In that area, Long is leading both Hulshof and Steelman with 22 percent and Sievers is scoring 8 percent.

Long, a 46-year-old vocational agriculture teacher for the Cabool School District, said he ran to back up his lessons about leadership. "I tell every class of freshmen that one of my goals is to be governor for the great state of Missouri," Long said. "I want to show that not only is setting goals important, you have to put a little bit of action behind what you say."

Long attributes his strong poll numbers in the Kansas City area to reaction against professional politics. "I truly think, and if you look at politics, there is the Republican establishment who think they know the answer and there are a large chunk of Republicans in the Kansas City area who are fed up with the Republican establishment," he said.

Long has made two previous bids for office -- losing campaigns for his local school board and the local hospital board. "I might be like Abe Lincoln," Long said. Lincoln lost bids for state legislature and U.S. Senate, winning only a single U.S. House term, before being elected president.

Both Sievers and Long have been shut out of most candidate forums, leaving the impression that only Hulshof and Steelman are in the contest. When he does get a chance to speak to an audience, Long said he tells them he is a common-sense conservative who wants to clean up Jefferson City. "We have been sending people to Jefferson City for a long time who, for lack of a better term, have lined their pockets with special interest money."

The lone challenger to Nixon, Daniel Carroll of Shelbina, could not be reached for comment.

Incumbent Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder faces two opponents -- Paul D. Sims of Lecoma and Arthur Hodge Sr. of Springfield.

Sims, whose $1,000 loan to his own campaign represents his entire campaign treasury, could not be reached for comment.

Hodge, 62, said he's running because he is fed up with welfare cheats, the public education system that is failing students, especially young blacks, and rules that prevent parents and schools from using a little old-fashioned discipline to moderate behavior.

Hodge is retired from the U.S. Army and worked as a truant officer for the Springfield School District. "We need change, real change and not b.s. change," he said. "Too many blacks are going to jail. Too many kids aren't going to high school. Too many people are on welfare and people are ripping off the system."

He has run unsuccessfully for circuit clerk, sheriff and state representative, and knows his effort is a long shot. "I cannot do this by myself," he said. "The people have to decide they want change. I can scream all day, but it will take a miraculous effort on the part of the people to say, 'I am going to rise up, I've had enough.'"

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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