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Politically Speaking: JeffCo Sen. Wieland on why his re-election bid is tougher than ever before

Missouri state Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri state Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial

Sen. Paul Wieland is the latest guest on Politically Speaking. He talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Abigail Censky about his re-election bid in Missouri’s 22nd District Senate seat.

The Imperial Republican represents a portion of Jefferson County. His race against Democrat Robert Butler is one of the most competitive Senate races in Missouri — and could give a sense of how other statewide campaigns shake out.

Wieland has a long history in Jefferson County politics. He was elected to the Missouri House in 1994, but lost re-election two years later. After more than a decade out of state politics, Wieland made a comeback in 2010 when he defeated incumbent state Rep. Jeff Roorda to represent a part of northern Jefferson County in the House.

Four years later, Roorda and Wieland squared off in a bid for the 22nd District seat. It was one of the most expensive contests of 2014 — with Wieland (spending more than $900,000) coming out ahead by more than 3,400 votes.

Since entering the Senate, Wieland has voted against some curbs on organized labor — including a high-profile bid to bar unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues. He’s also emerged as an opponent of abortion rights and part of a group of GOP lawmakers who oppose the death penalty.

Here’s what Wieland had to say during the show:

  • He is expecting a tough race — even though Jefferson County has voted for Republican candidates in the past few election cycles. “We can’t run against Obama no more. That’s old news,” he said. “This is going to be the true test of whether we can continue to push those Republican majorities and move forward or are the Democrats going to do a better job of getting out their people and are we going to have a setback election?”
  • He’s concerned that there may be an enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats in Jefferson County. “And it happens every year no matter who is in the office or the White House,” he said. “All of the intensity of the Republicans is like ‘hey, we’re in good shape. We have supermajorities in the House and Senate and we control Washington. Ah, we’re in good shape, we don’t have to go vote.’ That’s what we’re battling against.”
  • Even though Butler also opposes abortion rights, Wieland believes he has a strong record to showcase to voters. “I don’t just fill out the survey and say ‘I’ll do this and that,’” said Wieland, referring to the Missouri Right to Life survey. “I think unquestionably I’m a pro-life leader.”
  • Wieland had a rocky relationship with former Gov. Eric Greitens, even getting into a confrontation with him over a proposed legislative pay raise. He’s been pleased with Gov. Mike Parson’s leadership as he took the reins of state government.

Butler’s podcast will be posted on Tuesday afternoon.
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Abigail Censky on Twitter: @AbigailCensky

Follow Paul Wieland on Twitter: @WielandNow

Music: “In My Feelings” by Drake

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.