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Hartzler banks on conservative policy and endorsers in Missouri Senate race

U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville) on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, at St. Louis Public Radio’s headquarters in Grand Center.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, on Tuesday at St. Louis Public Radio

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler is banking on big-name endorsements, fundraising and conservative positions to win the Aug. 2 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.

During an episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, Hartzler said she has the experience both in life and in politics to stand out from the pack. That includes working as a teacher, a farmer, a small-business owner and a member of Congress representing the state’s sprawling 4th Congressional District.

“I’m also a wife and a mom and a fighter in Washington who has a track record of getting things done,” Hartzler said. “And that’s what we need right now. We’re facing multiple crises in our nation: An economic crisis. A border crisis. An energy crisis. A national security crisis. A moral crisis. And these are the things that I have a track record of fighting and passing legislation on on behalf of Missourians.”

Since jumping into the U.S. Senate race last year, Hartzler has been near the top tier of fundraisers and public polling. She’s received key endorsements from agriculture groups like the Missouri Farm Bureau PAC, former elected officials such as Kit Bond and, most notably, U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley.

Some of Hartzler’s detractors, including Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Billy Long, say this coalescence of support shows how Missouri’s establishment is trying to rally around Hartzler as an alternative to Greitens. Hartzler dismissed that contention.

“These are leaders in Missouri who’ve actually got things done and care about Missourians,” Hartzler said. “And certainly, I don’t think anybody could call Josh Hawley establishment. He’s been in there and making waves, but standing up for Missouri.”

Hartzler generated attention earlier this year when she released her first ad criticizing transgender girls playing girls sports. When asked if that position was alienating voters who support LGBTQ rights, Hartzler said: “It’s something that is emblematic of the shift in our culture that is frustrating so many Missourians right now. It’s the lack of common sense all in the name of political wokeness.”

She also gained attention when she said she wouldn’t support Greitens, who has led in most public opinion polls, if he won the nomination.

“I’m running to defeat Eric Greitens so we don’t have that problem,” Hartzler said. “There is a concern that if he wins the primary, we could lose the state. And that would be devastating, because we really do need to take back the majority in the Senate.”

Bar patrons cheer as hundreds of people march through The Grove neighborhood of St. Louis on Friday, June 24, 2022, during a protest in relation to a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which largely deals with abortion care.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Bar patrons cheer as hundreds of people march through the Grove neighborhood of St. Louis on June 24 during a protest of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Backs ruling overturning Roe v. Wade

Hartzler supports the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Because of that ruling, Missouri banned abortion under most circumstances, including in cases of rape or incest. Hartzler said she supports the new law in Missouri.

“I’m for life,” Hartzler said. “And every life is precious no matter how that child was conceived. It deserves to live and it doesn’t deserve to die. That’s the reality of abortion."

"It is a life that can contribute to society, maybe find a cure for Alzheimers or who knows?” she added.

But Hartzler doesn’t see the end of Roe as a precursor to curtail access to contraception or to reverse legalization of same-sex marriage.

“People are just focused on life, and that’s what Roe v. Wade was talking about,” she said.

As for the ruling’s impact on the upcoming election, Hartzler said it was possible that overturning Roe could motivate voters on both sides of the issue. She said the main impact of the ruling was that it gave back “the decision on abortion to the elected representatives.”

“And that’s where it belongs,” Hartzler said.

No on ‘red flag’ gun laws

Last week, President Joe Biden signed legislation that was crafted in response to mass shootings in New York, Texas and elsewhere. Among other things, it provides money to states with so-called red flag laws — which seek to take away guns from people who are a danger to themselves or others. It also directs money to help mental health programs around the country.

Hartzler voted against the legislation, primarily because she does not support red flag laws.

“The thing that caused me to ultimately vote no is because I thought the red flag provisions do violate our constitutional rights,” Hartzler said. “As well as the 18- to 21-year-old extra scrutiny for them, it’s just disparate from other ages. I think it’s discriminatory toward them. When you’re talking about taking away somebody’s right, I think it meets a high bar you have to pass constitutionally. And it didn’t do that.”

With her no vote, Hartzler voted differently than the person she’s running to succeed in the Senate — Roy Blunt. He worked on expanding community health centers with Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

Hartzler, though, said while those provisions are laudable, they aren’t enough for her to support the legislation.

Reducing government spending

With inflation a big concern among voters, Hartzler said she would support reducing federal governmental spending.

She criticized the American Rescue Plan Act, which, among other things, provided stimulus checks to taxpayers and financial relief to state and local governments. And she also voted against legislation pumping in more money for infrastructure, like roads and public transit.

“We need to quit spending money,” Hartzler said. “Secondly, we need to address the supply chain issue. Because the definition of inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods. So it's been a double whammy.”

Increased energy production

Hartzler supports issuing more permits for energy production throughout the country. She criticized Biden for pulling the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline, though that project wouldn’t have been completed yet.

“Why would we shut that off and turn to other countries that don’t even share our values?” Hartzler said.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Sarah Kellogg on Twitter: @sarahkkellogg

Follow Vicky Hartzler: @RepHartzler

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.