Two veteran Republican state lawmakers are facing off in a GOP primary on Tuesday in southeast Missouri, hoping to replace term-limited State Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau.

State Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Scott City, is facing State Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau. Both chair key committees: Rehder chairs the House Rules Committee, while Swan chairs the House Workforce Development Committee.

State Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, presides over the Missouri Senate on May 15, 2020 (file photo courtesy of Jonathan Lorenz at Senate Communications)

Both GOP primary candidates were elected to the Missouri House in 2012 and are finishing their eighth and final year in the chamber, due to term limits.

The 27th senatorial district has six counties: Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Madison, Perry, Scott and Wayne. Cities and towns in the district include Cape Girardeau, Chaffee, Fredericktown, Jackson, Marble Hill and Perryville.

Cape Girardeau County, which has about 79,000 residents, is the largest county in the district.

The winner of the Rehder-Swan primary will face Marquand Democrat Donnie Owens in November.

Representative Swan is focusing her campaign on many issues, including education and workforce.

“I’ve been successful in passing over 30 different pieces of legislation regarding not only education and workforce, but parenting,” Swan says.

Swan describes education as the largest economic driver we have, to support the state itself.

She also says she’s focused on issues that have happened in Cape Girardeau. She notes she passed legislation to keep registered sex offenders out of Cape Girardeau’s Discovery Play House, which is a children’s museum.

Swan also emphasizes the importance of protecting and supporting law enforcement, and the Second Amendment. She is critical of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner for filing felony charges in July against Mark and Patricia McCloskey.

As for Representative Rehder, one of her top priorities is addressing Missouri’s opioid epidemic and passing prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) legislation. Missouri is the only state in the nation without a PDMP, which is an electronic database that collects data on controlled substance prescriptions within a state.

While both the Missouri Senate and House approved PDMP this year, they passed different versions. The bill died on the final day of session in May. Rehder has sponsored the bill for eight years. She notes her daughter was an addict, but is doing well now.

In addition to getting PDMP passed, Rehder says she will focus on reducing the size of government, if elected to the Senate. She says Missouri needs a smaller government, and is opposed to tax increases.

“Push back on these things like the $18 million going to free college for adults. We have got to get back to what government is supposed to do. We need to be more efficient with our monies,” Rehder says.

Rehder also emphasizes the importance of protecting and supporting law enforcement.

During separate phone interviews with Missourinet late last week, Swan and Rehder also criticized each other’s records.

Swan tells Missourinet that she has a record as a small business owner and nurse, while she says Rehder was a lobbyist for 17 years.

“She has skipped 801 votes, she skipped 29 pro-life votes, voted five times no and took money from the human cloning industry,” says Swan.

Swan notes she has been endorsed by Missouri Right to Life. She says she sponsored and co-sponsored seven abortion-related bills and passed two of them.

In response, Rehder notes all legislators miss votes, especially during Senate committee hearings on House bills. Rehder says that Swan has missed hundreds of votes, adding that Swan doesn’t have a record that southeast Missourians want.

“You have me, smaller government, lower taxes,” says Rehder. “You have her, who’s voted for every single tax increase, who sponsored the bill for $18 million going to free college for adults.”

Rehder is referring to Missouri’s “Fast Track” program. It’s primarily taught at community colleges, technical schools and colleges and universities. It is aimed at allowing Missourians to receive advanced training in high-demand areas.

Despite their differences, the two candidates have similar positions on small business, and have called for more jobs in rural Missouri.

Wayne Wallingford serves as the Missouri Senate’s Assistant Majority Floor Leader. He was elected to the Senate in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016.

He also served one term in the Missouri House, after being elected in 2010. Wallingford, who will leave the Senate in December, is running for Representative Swan’s House seat, in Tuesday’s primary.

Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with State Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau, which was recorded on July 30, 2020:

Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with State Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Scott City, which was recorded on July 31, 2020:

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