Republicans hold a commanding majority in the state Senate and the party hopes to strengthen its majority by defeating the only two rural incumbent Democrats left in the Missouri Senate.

Republicans have taken direct aim at state Sen. Wes Shoemyer, a Democrat from Clarence, who downplays the importance of his bid for re-election to the Missouri Democratic Party.

“Well, I don’t think it is as important to the Democratic Party as it is to the people of the 18th Senatorial district,” Shoemyer tells the Missourinet.

Shoemyer is basing his re-election campaign on what he has done for the district in rural northeast Missouri, once a stronghold for Missouri Democrats. He touts his efforts to secure state and federal funds to build infrastructure and bring jobs to the district.

Shoemyer doesn’t emphasize the party label.

“The title that I have had hung on my neck for several years, the one that I actually like, is amiable populist,” Shoemyer says, “which means I can get along with people in Jeff City until they start messing with my people.”

Republicans have a 23-to-11 majority in the state Senate over Democrats, who hold only two seats outside the metropolitan areas of St. Louis and Kansas City.

State Rep. Brian Munzlinger, a Republican from Williamstown, is challenging Shoemyer’s re-election. Munzlinger says the race is important to the Missouri Republican Party.

“I think it is very important,” Munzlinger tells the Missourinet. “I feel it’s important or I wouldn’t be running. I think it’s important for the direction Missouri is going to take in the future. So that’s why I’ve thrown my hat in the ring. I’ve been working very hard through this election cycle.”

Munzlinger makes light of Shoemyer’s claim to be conservative. Munzlinger says Shoemyer might claim to be conservative, but he receives support from traditional Democratic-leaning groups.

The other rural Democrat in the state Senate, Sen. Frank Barnitz (D-Lake Spring), is being challenged by Republican Dan Brown of Rolla.