Amid Missouri state Rep. Jim Neely's run for governor and the structures of Missouri term limits, four Republicans are vying in the GOP primary on Tuesday, Aug. 4, for his seat.

The 8th District, covering Clinton and Caldwell counties, including much of Cameron as well as Plattsburg and Hamilton, has been represented by Neely since 2012. The four Republican contenders are Darlene Breckenridge, Randy Railsback, Gary Stroud and David Woody. Breckenridge, Railsback and Stroud spoke on the priorities of their campaigns on Thursday. Woody responded to emails, but ultimately time conflicts precluded his participation in this overview.

Stroud, who has engaged in a number of sales interests in his professional life, said his campaign is focused on concern about Second Amendment issues. If confronted with future federal policy in which gun control policies are passed, Stroud said, Missouri will need a strong-willed legislature to ensure that lawful firearms owners do not see their rights infringed. 

"We need to make sure that we can ... put laws in effect that if something happens on the national level, we can kind of control our own destiny with gun control and guns here in Missouri," Stroud said. 

Railsback, a Hamilton resident who has held numerous leadership roles in agriculture, business and public service, described himself as a pragmatic conservative who is focused on solving problems and on constituent service. A member of the House of representatives is in most cases the most locally available state official for a given voter for addressing kitchen-table issues.

"I've got a pretty well-rounded point of view," he said. "I'm not an expert on everything, of course, but I just ... want to enhance on Dr. Neely's legacy, not only on what he's working on as an advocate for children and medical and such, but to address the lack of (statewide) focus on rural development." 

Breckenridge spoke as to her top priority on responding to COVID-19 and, especially, the economic fallout that has ensued from the pandemic. 

"If we continue to unilaterally live in fear and cause businesses to fail, how can we have any kind of a (state) budget? If we don't reopen Missouri and the economy, how can we provide any kind of services we've had in the past, or explore new ones?" 

She added that she supports short-term service in state leadership so as to ensure that representatives remain in touch with local voters. 

"A leader is heading for trouble if you surround yourself with personal favorites," she said. "The more you rely on these people who may have their own agendas, the more you alienate voters."

Marcus Clem can be reached at marcus.clem@npgco.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowClem