Skelton files Friday for re-election; faces serious Republican challenge
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Posted: Saturday, March 6, 2010 11:50 pm
Congressman Ike Skelton
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (March 6, 2010) — U.S. Congressman Ike Skelton, the longest-serving member of the state’s congressional delegation, filed Friday morning for re-election to the seat he’s held since 1977.
Some in the Washington media had speculated that Skelton, whose heavily rural district contains both Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base and has trended increasingly Republican in recent years, might join an increasing number of Democrats in deciding 2010 will be their retirement year. Skelton quickly rebutted such claims when they appeared in the press, and it’s not unusual for him to wait some time after the opening date for filings to turn in his candidacy papers.
Skelton chairs the House Armed Services Committee and is considered among the most powerful conservatives in the Democratic Party’s congressional leadership. He faces only nominal Democratic opposition from Leonard Steinman of Jefferson City, who filed Monday, but a crowded Republican field is seeking to replace him.
Those candidates include State Sen. Bill Stouffer of Napton in north-central Missouri near Marshall, former State Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Harrisonville, former Jefferson City Councilman Roy Viessman, James Scholz of Warrensburg, Arthur John Madden of Malta Bend, and Brian Riley of Marshall.
Also running is Greg Cowan of Lebanon, the only candidate to file so far for the seat with the Constitution Party.
All six Republicans as well as Cowan filed on Feb. 23, the first day for candidate filings.
Skelton filed for re-election without issuing a public media statement, but as the incumbent, he’s been sending out opinion columns for years that are often carried by local media in his district, including the Pulaski County Daily News. In recent months, many of Skelton’s columns have highlighted his conservative stances on such issues as opposition to deficit spending, support for the military, concerns about the current state of federal health care proposals, and coal-fired power plant regulation by the federal Environmental Protection Agency that would likely lead to a dramatic increase in electricity costs for Missouri.
The two Republicans generally considered Skelton’s strongest challengers, Stouffer and Hartzler, have been responding for some time to those columns and other actions by Skelton.
Just one day before Skelton filed for re-election, Hartzler issued a blistering attack on Skelton, calling him to apologize for supporting policies of the national Democratic leadership while taking conservative positions when visiting his home district.
Skelton has received plaudits from some Washington conservatives for his stance, along with fellow Missouri Congresswoman Joanne Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, in trying to stop the EPA from regulating carbon emissions.
However, Stouffer has noted that Skelton had voted for the “cap and trade” legislation pushed by President Barack Obama and others who are trying to regulate “greenhouse gases” in an attempt to stop global warming.
“Skelton now says he voted for cap and trade to slap hands of EPA. What???” asked Stouffer in a recent announcement to those interested in his campaign. “The question is, will voters believe a 34-year incumbent that votes with (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi 95 percent of the time that he is still ‘one of them?’”
While Stouffer has generally been cautious in his criticisms of Skelton, Hartzler spared few adjectives in her attack on his spending policies and recent public support for “pay as you go” or PAYGO legislation.
“Stop the double talk. You voted for every last dime of this disaster. Apologize now,” Hartzler demanded on Thursday. “We have a spending and debt crisis made in Washington. Mr. Skelton’s terrible voting record proves beyond a shadow of doubt that he is the problem, and no part of a solution. Liberal Washington’s runaway spending and mounting national debt will ruin us. I know it and so do the people of the Fourth despite any new election year e-mail blast strategy he may employ.”
Hartzler called for a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget, rescinding plans to spend what’s left unspent of President Obama’s economic stimulus package, and freezing discretionary spending except for national defense, social security and Medicare.
“The squandering of our children’s financial stability has to stop, starting now,” Hartzler said. “He owes us and our children an apology for mortgaging our children’s futures, and needs to hold the new election year double-talk about a ‘pay as we go’ spending rule. Where was his support of ‘pay-go’ last year, when he was voting to bury us under a mountain of debt and printing press money? It was nowhere to be found.”
Candidate filing continues until March 30. The Republican and Democratic primaries will be in August; the Republican winner will likely face Skelton in the November general election.