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Trump backs Onder in GOP primary for Missouri’s 3rd District congressional seat

Former state Sen. Bob Onder speaks at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024 in St. Charles. Onder is running for lieutenant governor, but has been linked to the 3rd Congressional District contest.
Jason Rosenbaum
Former state Sen. Bob Onder speaks at a press conference on Jan. 5 in St. Charles. Onder is running in the 3rd Congressional District GOP primary.

Former President Donald Trump is backing former state Sen. Bob Onder’s bid to represent Missouri’s 3rd Congressional District.

The endorsement is expected to provide a major boost for Onder since Trump is so popular with Missouri Republicans. Onder is facing two other major GOP candidates in his campaign to succeed U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer.

In a statement posted on his Truth Social account, Trump wrote that Onder is “an incredible America First Patriot” — and added he had his “complete and total endorsement.”

“A highly respected physician and attorney, Bob was a delegate for us in 2016, and has been an incredible voice for MAGA and the Great People of Missouri!” Trump wrote on the social media platform. “As your next Congressman, Bob will fight tirelessly to Stop Inflation, Grow the Economy, Secure the Border, Support our Military/Vets, Protect our always under siege Second Amendment, and Restore American Energy DOMINANCE.”

Onder said in a statement that Trump “was the greatest President of my lifetime and I look forward to being his ally in Congress to pass his America First Agenda and Make America Great Again.”

Onder is competing in a primary to succeed the retiring Luetkemeyer against a field of Republicans that includes former state Sen. Kurt Schaefer and state Rep. Justin Hicks. Luetkemeyer endorsed Schaefer, who has also received endorsements from groups like the Missouri Farm Bureau and the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police.

Trump said in his Truth Social statement that Schaefer is “WEAK ON MAGA,” without specifying why.

In a statement, Schaefer said, “unlike Bob Onder, I’ve always supported President Trump.”

Onder was a supporter of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2016 before Trump won the nomination. Onder ended up supporting Trump during the Republican National Convention that year.

Schaefer said that if elected, he would use his experience as a prosecutor with a record of enforcing the law to fight for Trump and his agenda.

“Together, we’ll restore law and order, expose D.C. corruption and secure the border,” Schaefer said.

Luetkemeyer and Onder ran against each other in a bitter GOP congressional primary in which both men spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money. Luetkemeyer and Schaefer have been close for years and even celebrated victory together in Columbia when they won their respective races during the 2008 election.

The 3rd Congressional District stretches from mid-Missouri to portions of the St. Louis area, including parts of St. Charles, Warren and Jefferson counties. Whoever wins the Aug. 6 contest will be heavily favored to win in November against either of the Democrats running — Bethany Mann or Andrew Daly — in the heavily Republican-leaning district.

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.