A dozen Republicans once again are preparing to state their cases before members of a nominating committee for the 8th Congressional District seat -- this time tonight in Cape Girardeau.
The same roster of hopefuls who participated last week in a forum in Salem, Mo., will join the committee and the public at 7 p.m. at the Concourse building, 429 N. Broadview St. All are vying for the chance to run in a special election to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, who plans to resign to become president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The SEMO Pachyderm Club, host of the event, is expecting a large turnout.
The club invited 17 hopefuls to speak Thursday, and, so far, 12 have accepted including, former congressman Wendell Bailey; former state senator Jason Crowell; Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder; former 8th District candidate Bob Parker; state Rep. Todd Richardson; Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem Jason Smith; Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party; Kansas City businessman and military veteran Pedro Sotelo; former state senator and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman; Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy; Mountain Grove, Mo., lawyer John Tyrrell; and state Sen. Wayne Wallingford.
Several others on the committee's list of potential nominees, including state Rep. Kevin Engler, state Sen. Dan Brown, Allen Woods and Jeffrey Ward have chosen not to participate in the forums or had not responded to committees' invitations by Tuesday afternoon. Cape Girardeau County Associate Circuit Judge Scott Lipke also is seeking the nomination but cannot, as ethics rules for judges dictate, speak at the event. Lipke is meeting with small groups of committee members as allowed in lieu of participating in any forums.
Holly Lintner, vice chairwoman of the Republicans' 86-member 8th District committee and a member of the Pachyderm Club, said candidates will be allowed 90-second opening and closing statements. Committee and club members are meeting today to finalize questions the candidates will be asked, she said.
The Salem forum included questions about candidates' stances on recent votes made in Congress, gun control, stem-cell research, their ability to raise campaign funds and how to handle poverty in the region.
Lintner hopes the forum can help committee members begin to form a firmer grasp on their votes.
"To me, the committee members have had the opportunity to look at the bios of these candidates to get to know about them, and it's now really getting to the meat of their beliefs," she said.
As in last week's forum, candidates will address the audience on their own with a time limit while other candidates are sequestered in a separate room. One change from the Salem forum will be that candidates will offer opening statements with other candidates present.
"We hope that will let them see the diversity amongst themselves," Lintner said.
Another change from Salem will be that names will be drawn to determine the order of the candidates' turns; in the first forum they went alphabetically. Faune Riggin of KZIM will moderate.
The committee is expected to meet in February in Van Buren, Mo., to nominate a candidate.
429 N. Broadview St., Cape Girardeau, MO