Bob Thrower of Dexter, Mo., a longtime military man and former small business owner, said he wants to see major changes in the education system, better management of money spent in prisons and make Missouri a "business-friendly state." Problems he sees with non-accredited school districts, the costs associated with housing prisoners and state and regional economies he calls "stagnant" are major concerns to him, he said.
Thrower served 20 years in the Army and retired from active service as a lieutenant colonel and is a former federal employee who was assigned to the Department of Defense. He also used to co-own Dexter Queen, a small burger and ice cream restaurant in Dexter.
His opponent in the upcoming primary, Dennis Fowler of Advance, Mo., is well known in Southeast Missouri's law enforcement community. Supporters of Fowler point to his record as evidence he is a skilled problem solver -- as he is known for coming down hard and fast on methamphetamine-related crimes for years as a Stoddard County Sheriff's deputy. He now serves as superintendent of the Juvenile Detention Center in Stoddard County. He is also a Navy veteran.
"There is just so much going on right now that I would like to change," Fowler said of his decision to enter the race.
Two changes he said he would like to see would be to create a better pay system for law enforcement officers and make sure farmers in his district are "better taken care of by taking a hard look at programs they are using to see if those programs are working," he said.
Fowler calls himself a "second amendment man" who opposes abortion and said he wants to see more done at the state level to overturn so-called "Obamacare."
The 151st District covers Stoddard County and a small part of Scott County. It is a new district that, before lines were redrawn earlier this year, consisted of most of Stoddard County, the southwestern third of Cape Girardeau County and a small portion of Wayne County, and was represented by Billy Pat Wright, who is vacating the seat due to term limits.
Both Republicans are raising and spending a bit more than their Democratic opponents in the race.
Ryan William Holder of Advance, Mo., a field representative for the Laborers International Unit local No. 1104, will face Gary Gaines of Dexter, Mo., a former regional director for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, in the Democratic primary. Both primaries are set for Aug. 7.
Thrower has more than $11,000 on hand as of the last report to state election officials earlier this month. As of Friday, however, he said, he has received additional contributions, bringing his amount on hand to around $17,500. His opponents trail signficantly, with Fowler's amount on hand earlier this month at $6,320. Gaines has said he is not fundraising on purpose and loaned $4,000 to himself to fund his campaign, while Holder's total receipts as of the most recent report to state election officials were at $1,200.
Thrower said he believes he is receiving more contributions because he said he has a lot of support in Dexter and many people like that he is ex-military.
Fowler said even though his financial support isn't as significant as Thrower's, he sees himself with an advantage in the race because he has lived his entire life in the area and has a "pretty good reign on what people around here need."