Cindy O’Laughlin won the Republican primary for the 18th Missouri State Senate District seat Aug. 7.
O’Laughlin is the Republican nominee for the seat currently held by Sen. Brian Munzlinger, whose has reached his term limit, with 37 percent of the vote. She won the race against sitting Republican State Reps. Craig Redmon, Lindell Shumake and Nate Walker.
O’Laughlin said she hopes to be unlike previous state senators because she will be more connected to local governments and the people in the 18 District. She said she is concerned that the state budget is increasing, but the northeast region is not seeing enough economic return or advances. O’Laughlin said she is running because her perspective as a businesswoman can help address this issue. She said she hopes to join the appropriations committee if elected.
O’Laughlin said she worked throughout the campaign to meet and talk to middle-and working-class men and women about what challenges they are facing, and give them the ability to prosper. For the general election, O’Laughlin said she will not change how she has been campaigning.
Senior Korbin Keller, O’Laughlin’s campaign manager, said the campaign had the resources, such as volunteers, money and connections to the community, to reach voters, spread their platform and gain name recognition.
“We were able to just have some good messaging on her campaign and what she’s about and send that all out on radio, TV and mailings,” Keller said. “I think it helped being the only outsider in the race running against three state reps … they kind of split the vote a little bit, and she managed to get the classic people who wanted to see some change.”
Keller said O’Laughlin’s platform centered around workforce development — such as supporting education for skilled and vocational training — local control of public schools and entitlement reform. He said O’Laughlin is also pro-life and pro-Second Amendment, and she supports economic freedom. Keller said the campaign was successful because of their available resources, and because of the connections made to local communities within the district.
In addition to the money spent by campaigns, there was a large amount of political action committee money spent in this primary for and against every candidate.
Democratic candidate Crystal Stephens wrote in a statement to The Index, “My only goal if elected is to improve the quality of life for every person in the 18th District and in Missouri as a whole and bring integrity back into Missouri politics … representatives in Jefferson City have become out of touch with the people of Missouri and dark money groups are funding candidates to push their agenda in Missouri. It is time our government gets back to the business of representing the people. Our government should not be up for sale and neither should our representatives. We need to stop dark money candidates from buying elections.”