There’s a crowded field of Republicans running for state Senate in Northeast Missouri’s vast 18th District.  Four candidates are seeking to replace term limited GOP incumbent Brian Munzlinger of Williamstown, who’ll be leaving office at the end of 2018.

Three state Representatives are vying for the Republican nomination in the conservative district – Nate Walker of Kirksville, Craig Redmon of Canton and Lindell Shumake of Hannibal.

Redmon and Shumake, like Munzlinger, are termed out and are seeking to extend their time as state lawmakers in the Senate.  Walker could opt to pursue one more term in his 3rd District House seat before maxing out at eight years, but says he’s ready to test his mettle for the upper chamber.

“I think competitive primaries are good”, said Walker.  It gives the voters the opportunity to test the candidates.  And it gives them the opportunity to find out what they really stand for.”

To compete financially with the rest of the field, Walker will have to find more resources.  As of the latest reporting deadline on October 16th, Walker had raised just under $14,000 and had roughly $1,500 on hand.

By comparison, 4th District Representative Redmon has raised $175,117 and has $ 35,949.55 on hand.  5th District Representative Shumake has collected $29,344.98 with $ 10,676.61 on hand.

The wild card in the primary race could be the fourth candidate, businesswoman Cindy O’Laughlin of Shelbina.  She’s co-owner of Leo O’Laughlin Inc., a fleet of cement mixer trucks.   O’Laughlin loaned her own campaign $100,000 to boost her take to $160,000 for the reporting deadline.  She is in an especially strong position in the early going with $154,833.62 on hand.

Walker seems unfazed by being dramatically outgunned financially in the primary’s early going, having been the target of St. Louis billionaire Rex Sinquefield in 2014.  “Three years ago, I probably had one of the most challenging reelection primary battles, and I withstood the test of all the negative campaigning and advertisements against me.”

Walker was one of more than a dozen Republican state lawmakers selected for opposition by Sinquefield that year over their votes on a tax cut bill.

Like many Republicans in the largely conservative rural swaths of the Missouri countryside, Walker touts his credentials on the issues of guns and abortion with endorsements from the Missouri Right to Life and the National Rifle Association.

He says he’ll super serve the interests of the 18th District if elected.  “I won’t let the pressures of outside the district have any influence on me”, Walker said.  “I will represent the 18th District, and I’ll do it in a way that is traditional and good for the district.”

A number of political strategists have suggested that the 3rd quarter of non-election years is the most important period for primary election funding.

Jack Cardetti with Tightline Strategies notes that by the time the fourth-quarter comes around, the holidays make it a very difficult time to raise money.  “Being able to raise a lot of money and essentially scare off primary opponents, this is the time (3rd quarter) that you need to put up solid fundraising numbers.”

With the dollar figures reported this week by the 18th District Senate candidates, Redmon and O’Laughlin would seem to have positioned themselves well going into 2018.

Cardetti thinks there will likely be a Democratic candidate who will enter the race sometime after the first of the year.  He says the 18th District has traditionally been Democratic, but points out that rural areas of the state have moved strongly into the Republican corner in state legislative races over the past 15 years.  Democrats had a firm grip on the district’s Senate seat until 2000.

Candidates will officially file for office in February. Primary elections take place August 7th.