The phrase too close to call is often overused in politics. Many times it is said to keep people tuning in for more. Yet, the race for the Republican nomination does indeed appear to meet the criteria for "too close to call." Here are my observations as to where the candidates stand a little over one week until the election:
#1 - Jack Goodman: Many dismiss him as a career politician despite having only been in office for a short time. That being said, he seems to be closing in on Billy Long for the nomination. I went ahead and put him as #1 for the following reasons: A) His home base is overwhelmingly supporting him... take a trip down the streets of cities and towns in Barry and Lawrence counties. His constituent support is overwhelming and speaks volumes about his character and record; B) He is making significant inroads into Nodler country. Overflow crowds at his events in Jasper, Newton, and McDonald counties can only mean one thing: the anti-Nodler vote may be swinging toward Goodman; C) He has the momentum: Don't underestimate the power of the mo'. Grassroots campaigns are often undercovered. The fact that he outraised his opponents is a good sign for his candidacy.
#2- Billy Long: A betting man would still put their money on Long at this point, however. The endorsements of Sarah Steelman, Mel Hancock, and Mike Huckabee will carry significant weight in this area. There are a few things to be worried about, however. Most who watched or attended the forums in Springfield and Joplin this week agree that Long came across weak and out of sorts. His response to the Afghanistan question at the Joplin event was the most unnerving. Quietly some Long supporters are beginning to wonder if he can pull this nomination out.
#3 - Gary Nodler: Nodler has made some friends this week among undecided voters. I have heard more than a few undecideds mention that Nodler seems like the safe choice. Yet, it doesn't appear he will be able to carry enough support in the Springfield, Bolivar, and Branson areas to seal the deal. There are also indications that the anti-Nodler vote is beginning to coalesce around Goodman.
#4 - Jeff Wisdom: I think Wisdom is the dark horse here. I don't think he has a chance of winning, but he does have the ability (along with Moore) to lose the election for Long. The more votes he siphons off from the Springfield area, the greater the chance a Nodler or Goodman has of winning this race. You might say that Wisdom could be the kingmaker. I believe the amount of support Wisdom receives will be surprising to most.
#5 - Darrell Moore: I had the highest hopes for this campaign, but Moore seems tired. There is no fire or charisma that I have seen in previous encounters. Moore generally has the sharpest answers to political issues and that will win him support amongst a certain demographic. Once again, the only thing Moore does, however, is takes votes away from people who would most likely vote for Long.
#6 (tie) - Mike Moon and Michael Wardell: These guys are running on their principles, but they aren't going to win. Again... being from the Springfield area, I think their small numbers of votes hurt Billy Long.
# 8 - Steve Hunter: Really? Do I even need to comment? Wow.
So, there you have it. My view on the Republican candidates from Missouri's 7th Congressional District. Surely there is something there for you to comment on, get mad about, etc. Feel free to comment away. We will know for sure Tuesday, August 3rd.