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Brandom critical of Wallingford's business record
A week after Wayne Wallingford supporters called Ellen Brandom's pro-life credentials into question, the Sikeston Republican has fired back at her Missouri Senate race opponent, using an endorsement from a pro-business group to suggest that Wallingford's contributions from labor unions could compromise his ability to properly represent the conservative 27th District.
Wallingford, of Cape Girardeau, called the suggestion "laughable" and accused Brandom of being a "desperate" candidate in search of attention.
The campaign between the two Republican House representatives has heated up in the weeks before the Aug. 7 primary, which will send one to the Missouri Senate and the other out of the legislature altogether. Last week, the pro-life Missouri Right to Life gave Wallingford its exclusive endorsement, pointing to a Brandom vote that could have used state funds for stem-cell or cloning research.
Brandom this week received the endorsement and a $40,000 contribution from Missouri Club for Growth, a self-described pro-business conservative organization that stands for smaller government, reducing regulation, protecting taxpayers and free-market economic solutions.
The release announcing the endorsement points out that Wallingford has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and has been endorsed by labor unions during his numerous campaigns for political office. Such support, Brandom said in an interview, should be telling to voters.
"I think that should tell them that he's going to promote some of their issues and that's clearly what they feel, too," Brandom said.
The one that immediately came to Brandom's mind was a Wallingford vote to reform the prevailing wage laws, which Brandom maintained would drive up the costs to taxpayers for building schools and government buildings. Wallingford voted no to eliminating prevailing wage restrictions.
Missouri's prevailing wage law establishes a minimum wage rate that must be paid to workers on public works construction projects in the state, such as bridges, roads and government buildings.
She also noted that she supports allowing union membership votes to be done in secret so no pressure can be applied, but that Wallingford voted against that, Brandom said.
For the record, Wallingford said, he voted to keep union elections secret in 2011 as part of a House joint resolution and he supported prevailing wage reform in House Bill 1198.
Wallingford dismissed any notion his record was anything but pro-business. Wallingford said he has worked as a businessman for 20 years, including several years for a Fortune 500 company and rattled off several pro-business bills he's voted for, including those relating to payroll deductions for contributions to labor unions, workers' compensation reform and to allow tax deductions for small businesses. For the past eight years, he has worked for the local McDonald's company where he has overseen the hiring and training for more than 600 employees.
"Contrary to the message of Ellen's nonsensical release, I support right to work, I received a 100 percent rating from the Missouri employers who make up NFIB-Missouri, and I received a 95 percent rating from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce," Wallingford said. "I feel I have a strong record. Now Ellen is getting desperate and she's trying to attack mine."
As far as being beholden to unions, Wallingford said it is simply not true. He also noted that Brandom's contribution from Missouri Club for Growth is much higher than any union donation he received.
"If you were looking at a $500 donation and a $40,000 donation, I guess you know where the strings are attached," Wallingford said. "I don't sell my soul to someone who donates to my campaign, because I don't need to."
He has accepted some donations from unions, he said, because he represents all the constituents in his district.
But the organization behind that $40,000 donation said it looked at both candidates before coming down on the side of Brandom.
Brandom is "a tested and true fiscal conservative," said Melanie Abrajano, executive director of Missouri Club for Growth. "We know where she stands, we know where she's been and we know where she's going. Rep. Wallingford has been in the House for a shorter time and he's not had the opportunity to really prove himself on fiscal issues. We just think she is the better of the two."
Both candidates have accepted large donations in recent weeks, including each lending significant sums to get their messages out. In addition to Missouri Club for Growth's $40,000 donation, Brandom lent her campaign $25,000 in May, according to a filing with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Wallingford's employer, YPYKYA Inc., donated $30,000 to his campaign this week, and Wallingford lent his campaign another $30,000.
Another noteworthy donation this week to Wallingford's campaign came from prominent political donor David Humphreys of Joplin, Mo., who contributed $25,000. Humphreys, a businessman, made the news in June for switching sides in the lieutenant governor's race, donating money to Sen. Brad Lager after previously supporting Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.
Cape Girardeau, MO