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Schoeller banking on area in his bid for Missouri secretary of state

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Republican secretary of state nominee Shane Schoeller of Willard has trod the length and breadth of Missouri since addressing Nevada's Lincoln Day Dinner last April 6, and he faces another big challenge in his Nov. 6 showdown against Kansas City Democrat Jason Kander.

The president pro-tem of the State House of Representatives said his polling indicates he has a lead, "but polls don't always add up on election day.

"You work hard every day to earn the vote of every person you meet because things can quickly change," Schoeller said Thursday from Portageville in Southeast Missouri.

As the only major candidate from Southwest Missouri running statewide this fall, he has striven to negate the disparity in his and Kander's funding since edging Sens. Scott Rupp of Wentzville and Bill Stouffer of Napton in the GOP primary.

Kander, an attorney and state representative, entered the fall race with $956,000 to Schoeller's $285,000, the candidates told the Missouri Ethics Commission. "That primary was tough," said Schoeller, a 41-year-old native of Bolivar, 66 miles east-southeast of Nevada.

"The biggest difficulty was introducing yourself to a number of voters you weren't able to meet personally. We invested a great deal of resources and met as many as we could. Kander worked hard to raise his money from trial attorneys and unions.

"We've had to start over, but we are fortunate once again that my donors are supporting me in the general election. They want to make sure no politics are played with the summaries of constitutional and statutory ballot issues."

Schoeller said outgoing Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan wrote a politically oriented title for 2010's Proposition B "puppy mill" initiative and helped the Washington-based Humane Society of the United States get it passed. "A 2003 statute says summaries 'shall be written fairly,' but Carnahan's have been overturned more often than any other secretary of state's," he said.

Schoeller, former Gov. Matt Blunt's chief administrative aide when Blunt was secretary of state from 2001 to 2005, said many rural Missourians "are concerned that the Humane Society is not just after pet breeders, it's after agriculture as a whole.

"Ron Hardecke of Owensville tells me he has been hearing from the Humane Society about how hogs should be raised and how he needs to take care of his operation," he said.

Vernon County Republican Chairman Jerry Wadel said Schoeller needs a bloc in Southwest Missouri because Kander will get beaucoups backing from Kansas City and St. Louis. "Shane's strength is in the rural areas and small towns and I think the Christian churches will be for him," Wadel said.

"The politicians in this area and around Joplin and Webb City speak favorably of him. I have had the chance to visit with Shane a couple of times. He is a good, solid conservative that I would be comfortable with."

Rep. Barney Fisher, R-Horton, said Schoeller "has a good chance.

"I know Shane and Jason," Fisher said. "Shane sat in front of me on the House floor for six years. He's very diligent and has been around state government for a long time. He will win Southwest Missouri big. I don't have a feel for the rest of rural Missouri, but I suspect he will do fine."

Pledging to seek a voter identification law and fight election fraud, Schoeller said, "On average in various polls, 70 percent of Missourians back a voter's photo I.D. provision."

He said he knows of "two or three examples" of fraud that Carnahan didn't pursue. "If there is a legitimate allegation that fraud occurs, I will immediately work with local authorities to investigate," Schoeller said.

"If it is true, I'll move forward to see it properly prosecuted. A Rasmussen poll shows 60 percent of Americans believe there is some form of election fraud. We should have photo IDs to verify every voter is legitimate and not an alien or a felon."

Referring to the secretary of state's duty to register businesses, the candidate said, "Kansas has fewer than 10 classifications that businesses can be registered under and we have almost 60.

"We should keep that as straightforward as possible and try to make sure businesses don't get suddenly overwhelmed by what classification they should go under."

Schoeller helped Kander pass a 2009 bill to help overseas military people resolve family crises at home; but they have tangled since on protecting the rights of hunters and fishermen and opposing cap and trade. "Kander clearly has a different value set," Schoeller said.

"The NRA gives him (Kander) an 'F.' We thought Missouri needed to let Washington know cap and trade was not in the best interest of people trying to pay their utility bills, and he voted against that."

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