Incumbent U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler will face Democratic nominee Renee Hoagenson in the Nov. 6 general election after their primary victories Tuesday night.
In the Republican primary, Hartzler secured 73 percent of the vote, defeating John Webb for the third time. For the Democrats, Hoagenson won 52 percent of the vote, outdoing Hallie Thompson, according to the Missouri Secretary of State’s website.
A total of 101,013 Republican ballots were cast in the 4th District. Democrats cast 46,537 ballots. Libertarians cast 710.
The Democratic primary was tight as results came in from around the 4th District, which includes more than 20 counties in central and western Missouri. Boone County results were slower to come in, which Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks said on Twitter was due to an issue with election software.
Thompson held a narrow lead much of the night, but when Boone County votes were all counted, Hoagenson was the nominee by a margin of fewer than 2,000.
Newcomer Hoagenson wins, now faces difficult challenge
At The Tiger Hotel in downtown Columbia, around 50 blue-and-white-clad Renee Hoagenson supporters, young and old, crowded in to celebrate.
Clad in a navy blazer and earrings engraved with the word “Yes,” Norma Jean Schmitz didn’t come to the party empty-handed. The 76-year-old was passing out homemade, flag-colored pins affixed with what she calls “little affirmations.” Hers read “be authentic,” and she was saving “attitude is everything” for Hoagenson.
“I just wanted to let her and people know that (tonight is) about bringing good things to Missouri,” she said.
Hoagenson, 51, is a small-business owner who began her campaign in March 2017. She runs on a platform of increasing living-wage jobs, reforming campaign finance, funneling more money to public schools, expanding Medicaid and Medicare and reforming the process of redistricting, according to her website.
Schmitz met Hoagenson the Friday after the 2016 presidential elections at a women’s support group. She noticed Hoagenson was visibly shaken in light of the election results.
“She was so raw,” Schmitz said.
Schmitz knew how Hoagenson felt. When she heard Hoagenson was running for Congress, she was thankful.
“She’s an action lady,” Schmitz said. “She believes in what she’s doing, and I happen to believe in her.”
At 10 p.m., with Thompson in the lead, the conversation at Hoagenson’s watch party continued, but more quietly, like the room was holding its collective breath.
The moment turned at 10:23 p.m., when the results for Boone County came in, putting Hoagenson ahead. Her remaining supporters, most of whom had been there all night, whooped and traded fist-bumps and hugs.
“I’m not going to count my chickens until there’s 100 percent (reporting),” Hoagenson said.
Still, she hadn’t planned for uncertainty when she woke up this morning. The loss of Cass County, where she’s garnered a lot of support, was particularly surprising, she said.
Then the final news came. Hoagenson had written a victory speech, but because of what she called the “nerve-wracking” night, she skipped it. Holding the speech rolled in her hand while she spoke, she instead thanked the people gathered around her.
“I feel like you’re my family,” she said. “There’s something about all of us being on this team, being in the trenches together; I mean, it is just literally like family.”
Hoagenson said one of her next plans is to invite Hartzler to regular debates before the general election.
Kevin Pitkin, 25, showed up at Hoagenson’s party somewhat by accident. A Columbia College student seeking his second bachelor’s degree, he’d voted at the Rock Bridge Christian Church polling center earlier this evening and wanted to get more involved. He met a couple planning to attend Hoagenson’s party, and they invited him along.
Pitkin, who studies public administration, said one of his priority issues is health care.
“Health care should be a right. That’s how I interpret life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Pitkin said. “I think that health care is a part of that.”
He voted for Hoagenson on Tuesday, supporting her push for universal health care and campaign finance reform.
After the final results, Hallie Thompson said she needs to think about what to do moving forward.
“I’m going to get involved in local campaigns and get scientists in Jefferson City,” she said.
Thompson, 28, is a plant scientist from High Point. Her platform featured universal health care, increased innovation in and access to science and research, and combatting food insecurity.
The mood at Thompson’s watch party at DrinKraft in Columbia was upbeat early on, but grew more tense as Hoagenson pulled ahead. Still, people were behind Thompson.
“I’ve seen Hallie’s leadership first hand,” supporter Rachel Bauer said at the watch party. Bauer was vice president of the MU Graduate Professional Council when Thompson was president.
“Her collaborative leadership style cultivated a hard-working team,” Bauer said.
Thompson found support among Columbia voters who said her experience as a plant scientist made her a good pick, and said she made connections going door-to-door.
“She seems really down-to-earth,” Columbia voter Ryan Hampton said. “I like that she’s highly intelligent, it seems; she’s a plant scientist. She has very good common sense and is young, so she isn’t corrupted by the system yet.”
Incumbent Hartzler wins another primary
Hartzler, 57, is seeking a fifth term as Missouri’s 4th District U.S. representative. Her tenure in Congress has led to more Department of Justice grant funding to fight sex-trafficking; a bill that improves the services natural disaster victims receive from the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and the development of the Drug-Free Missouri initiative, which supports youth who choose to live a drug-free lifestyle.
In a written statement, Hartzler said she is proud to be the Republican nominee again.
“I want to continue fighting for a strong national defense, access to rural broadband, career and technical education to help individuals access good-paying jobs, drug-free communities, and the foundational freedoms that made our country great: faith, family, and freedom,” Hartzler said.
She released her statement before a winner emerged in the tightly contested Democratic election, and posed the November election as a choice between “restoring the American Dream” and returning to the “failed policies of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.”
Hartzler won Boone County with about 77 percent of the vote.
“Vicky has helped our high school, Douglass High School, so I thought it was important to vote for her,” Columbia teacher Susan Wier, 61, said at the polls.
Some Columbia voters said they voted for Hartzler because she keeps in touch with the people she represents.
“I communicate with my elected representatives, state and local,” Norm Klopfenstein, 70, said. “I always get feedback from Vicky Hartzler.”
John Webb, 64, is a small-business owner and retired police officer from Cleveland, Missouri. He also faced Hartzler in the 2014 and 2016 primaries. His platform focused on limiting the size and scope of the federal government and upholding the Second Amendment.
Webb said Tuesday night he doesn’t know if he will run again in 2020.
“My plan moving forward is to get behind the Republican candidate and try and continue the Trump agenda,” Webb said.
Bliss secures Libertarian nomination
Hartzler and Hoagenson will face Libertarian nominee Mark Bliss. He defeated Steven Koonse 56-44.
“We have clear need for more diverse party representation in Missouri, and independents are coming out in droves,” Bliss said in a written statement.
He said the turnout in independent voters shows that some people want more than two choices, and hopes that the major parties recognize that movement.
“Missouri is no longer made up of black and white single-issue voters, and that gray area in the political atmosphere, like the ‘right-to-work’ initiative, is forcing voters to critically consider each candidate and issue,” Bliss said.
Bliss, 31, of Warrensburg is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Sociology at the University of Central Missouri, where he graduated with a degree in sociology. Bliss wants to lower taxes for small businesses, and decrease the national debt and defense spending.