You're a winner!
A few months ago, I came up with an informal ranking system of the potential candidates for the U.S. Seventh District House seat. I decided to let some time pass before updating the list. It was probably a good a decision, as a number of candidates have entered the fray.
Some - like state Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin - were not totally unexpected. Others - like Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore or political newcomer Jeff Wisdom - are surprises.
While it's still very early in the process, here's how I see things standing right now. Remember, the only thing that matters in any election is the final total on election day:
9. Nixa Councilman Kevin Elmer: Elmer is still the only candidate from fast-growing Christian County, which is a plus. I have to question though whether the influx of other Springfield-area candidates are drowning Elmer out.
8. Former state Rep. B.J. Marsh: I've heard almost nothing about Marsh lately. That doesn't mean he won't get in, but the influx of Springfield candidates doesn't help. Still, he could self-finance and does have some name recognition through his travel business.
7. Jeff Wisdom: As a newcomer to the political process, Wisdom might be able to attract some votes from disaffected Republicans tired of "politics as usual." But that role might already be taken by another candidate on this list...
6. John Putnam: As a Joplin-area candidate, Putnam could cost Nodler some votes. And in a wild contest like this, that could make a difference.
5. Hal Donaldson: The president of the non-profit ministry Convoy of Hope is a sleeper. While his campaign hasn't made much noise lately, Donaldson does have the fundraising skills to be a serious contender.
4. Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore: Moore's successfully run for a countywide office in the district's most populous area. And his high-profile position probably puts him television more than most of the other candidates. He has the potential to be a major force in this race.
2. [tie] Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin: Nodler could be the dominant candidate from the Joplin area, a fairly significant population center. And in contest that is becoming top-heavy with Springfield-area candidates, Nodler might be able to eek a plurality. There is precedent of candidates who have lost before eventually prevailing in their races for higher office.
2. [tie] Billy Long: There are certainly benefits to having solid backing from elements of a political party. But Long proves that there are rewards to being a political outsider at a time when the Republican Party is doing serious soul searching. After a solid fundraising quarter, Long as of now seems to be the top candidate from Springfield. But will the aforementioned influx of other candidates from the area sap away critical votes?
1. Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mt. Vernon: David Catanese over at the KY3 Blog placed Long at the top of his power rankings. With a solid fundraising quarter, good name recognition and an outsider mentality, Long is definitely a front-running candidate. But I'm going to keep Goodman at the top of this list by a hair. I predict Goodman's fundraising will pick up now that the legislative session is over. And he could definitely take a lot of votes in the area between Springfield and Joplin. I could be wrong on both counts, though. If Nodler, Moore or Long outpace Goodman in the money race, he might fall off the top spot.