A special election is being held today in one of Missouri’s few swing voting areas. The 17th State Senate District in Clay County northeast of Kansas City is almost evenly divided.
It’s a home to labor interests with the Claycomo Ford assembly plant there employing roughly 7,500 union workers.
Republican State Representative Kevin Corlew of Kansas City is facing Democratic fellow State Representative Lauren Arthur, also of Kansas City, for a seat that was vacated by Republican Ryan Silvey, who was appointed to the commission which regulates large utility companies.
Silvey, one of several Republican Senators who was highly critical of former Governor Eric Greitens, was chosen by the fellow GOP member to sit on the Public Service Commission at the beginning of 2018.
Both Arthur and Corlew called for Greitens to leave office long before he resigned last week.
KMBC-TV reports Corlew’s running on a platform of well-funded schools, good paying jobs and low taxes, especially for seniors.
Corlew is an attorney who chaired a high-profile transportation task force the state legislature put together to explore remedies to address Missouri’s underfunded roads. The committee issued an in-depth report to the legislature at the beginning of this year’s session.
Arthur told KMBC she also prioritizes good schools and wants to protect working families and clean up Jefferson City. She has a background as a teacher and is currently a Regional Director for Urban Leaders Fellowship.
Like Silvey, Corlew is a Republican who has bucked the party’s platform to side with unions over labor issues before the legislature. He voted against a proposal this year to move a pro-union ballot measure to the low voter turnout August primary election and opposed a plan for a vote to make Missouri a constitutional right to work state.
Even with Corlew’s pro-labor stance, Arthur has the endorsement of the prominent unions in the district. She also opposed measures supported by Corlew to block local minimum wage increases and curtail liability lawsuits against businesses.
On most other high-profile issues, the two candidates reflect the priorities of their party affiliation.
Arthur opposed individual and corporate tax cuts that were passed by the legislature this year, contending the wealthy would be the primary beneficiaries. Corlew thinks they’ll boost economic growth.
Arthur opposes the loosening of gun restrictions the state has adopted in recent years such as permit less carry and the abolishment of license and registration requirements. Corlew supports the 2nd Amendment although he’s expressed support for closing loopholes in background checks.
On abortion, Corlew wrote in 2014 that he’s pro-life and has been endorsed by Missouri Right to Life. He has a strong commitment to adoption for families. Arthur supports abortion rights and has been endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice.
It’s not known if the scandals and legal troubles of recently resigned Republican Governor Eric Greitens will play a role in the special election between Corlew and Arthur.
Polls is open today in the 17th District 6 a.m.-7 p.m. The winner will serve out the remainder of Silvey’s four-year term before facing reelection in 2020.