John Brunner is running for Senate on his business credentials, something the Missouri Republican says too many congressional lawmakers lack.
Brunner is one of three Republicans facing off in the Aug. 7 Republican primary election for a chance against Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill. This is his first time running for elected office.
"Far too few people in Washington, D.C., know how to grow a business, how to expand," Brunner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He uses his family business, Vi-Jon, as a rubric for his success in office. The company supplies big-name retailers, such as Target and Walmart, with everyday items at bargain prices, the same products that wear the stores' labels.
Brunner joined Vi-Jon in 1978. By the time his father retired, in 1992, the company needed a boost. "I thought, I gotta make this work," Brunner told the paper. "So I brought in some people with MBA backgrounds and a lot of titles behind their names." Those advisers opened a second factory, but the venture went south and Brunner then had to sell the plant to pay off the company's $35 million debt.
The company grew its annual sales from $23 million in 1994 to $300 million by 2006, when Brunner sold it, giving majority ownership to Berkshire Partners, the private equity firm. When asked by the Post-Dispatch how much he made in the deal, he responded, "I don't know what the number was."
Brunner got out at the right time; Vi-Jon subsequently went into debt to the tune of $245 million. Brunner and his wife, however, have assets worth between $25.5 million and $108 million, according to his financial disclosure forms, which are required from all U.S. Senate candidates.
Yet compared to his competitors, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, Brunner had not raised a significant amount of money coming into July. He had $183,000 on hand, while his opponents Akin and Steelman had $1.4 million and $562,000 respectively, according to the Associated Press.
His campaign spent $2.8 million last quarter, mostly on political ads, with over $2 million coming from Brunner's own pocket. Akin and Steelman spent approximately $279,000 each on their own campaigns.
10 more election stories from beyond the presidential field:
Democratic Nominee For U.S. House Upendra Chivukula Files With $430,000 On Hand [Politicker N.J.]
Democrats Seek To Gain Majority House Delegation From Arizona [The Republic]
31.1 Percent Voter Turnout In California Primaries Sets Record Low [The Sacramento Bee]
Voters Dislike Rick Scott But Find His Policies Attractive [The Miami Herald]
Governor Patrick Says State Legislators Parking Records Are Off-Limits [Boston Herald]
Democratic Primary Victor Grace Meng of Queens Pushes Bill Authorizing Bullet Microstamping [New York Daily News]
Texas Republican Establishment Faces Off Against Tea Party With Cruz Versus Dewhurst For U.S. Senate [LA Times]
VP Of U.S. Has "40-Year Gubernatorial Drought" Says A Rutgers Report [Politicker N.J.]
Sen. Tom Coburn [R-Okla.] Angered Over SSA's 1.2 Million Death Miscalculation [News OK]
U.S. Senate Candidates Neumann And Hovde Release Fundraising Numbers [Associated Press]
Rudy Giuliani And The Price Of Milk
While running for president in 2007, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani <a href="http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/news_theswamp/2007/04/giulianis_price.html">told</a> a reporter at a Montgomery, Ala., supermarket that he estimates "a gallon of milk is probably about a $1.50, a loaf of bread about a $1.25, $1.30, last time I bought one." It must have been a few election cycles since his last trip: The grocery store's website listed milk for $3.38 and bread up to $3.49.
Dan Quayle And Single Mothers
During George H.W. Bush's reelection campaign in 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle <a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1314&dat=19920521&id=b1tWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=NfADAAAAIBAJ&pg=6921,388223" target="_hplink">scoffed</a> at the "Murphy Brown situation," referring to a television character who had a child out of wedlock. Quayle called the Brown story "totally unreal," adding, "A highly paid professional woman [with a baby] ... give me a break."
Martha Coakley And Shaking Hands
In a display of aloofness that many political observers say led to her defeat by Republican Scott Brown, Democratic Senate candidate and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley erred in <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0110/Coakley_not_sweating_it.html" target="_hplink">brushing off</a> the idea of ramping up her campaigning. When asked whether she was being too apathetic, she referenced one of Brown's ads and fired back, "As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?"
Spiro Agnew And Poor Neighborhoods
Republican vice presidential candidate Spiro Agnew, branded as Richard Nixon's go-to guy on cities, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1996/09/18/us/spiro-t-agnew-ex-vice-president-dies-at-77.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm" target="_hplink">vowed</a> in 1968 to avoid poor neighborhoods. "If you've seen one slum, you've seen them all," Agnew said.
Gerald Ford And Tamales
While visiting the Alamo in 1976, President Gerald Ford <a href="http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/No-one-told-Ford-tamales-need-to-be-unwrapped-1536700.php" target="_hplink">bit</a> into a tamale through the husk, a faux pas later deemed the "Great Tamales Incident."
George H.W. Bush And Grocery Scanners
President George H.W. Bush caught flak for <a href="http://www.snopes.com/history/american/bushscan.asp" target="_hplink">appearing awed</a> by a supermarket check-out scanner while touring a grocers convention in 1992. It turned out the president was being shown a new bar code technology, and the convention worker who was alongside Bush later said it's "foolish to think the president doesn't know anything about grocery stores. He knew exactly what I was talking about."
George W. Bush And Gas Prices
In 2008, President George W. Bush <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/business/worldbusiness/03iht-assess.4.11654214.html?_r=1" target="_hplink">said</a> he had not heard predictions that gas prices could soon hit $4 a gallon. At the time, the national average was $3.29 a gallon.
John Kerry And Cheese Steak
In 2003, Democratic presidential contender John Kerry <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/battle10/244119/bloombergs-john-kerry-cheesesteak-moment-thomas-shakely#" target="_hplink">ordered</a> Swiss cheese on a cheese steak while campaigning in South Philadelphia, straying from the traditional favorite topping, Cheez Whiz.
Michael Dukakis And The Tank
Democratic presidential contender Michael Dukakis <a href="http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2008/01/17/the-photo-op-that-tanked" target="_hplink">tried</a> to one-up Republican opponent George H.W. Bush on national defense by striking a pose in an M1 Abrams tank.
Mitt Romney And Wawa
Mitt Romney has had his fair share of seemingly out-of-touch statements this election cycle, admitting he likes to "fire people" and <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/mitt-romney-sandwich-computer-wawa/story?id=16587170#.T-Ca3XBfaUc" target="_hplink">expressing amazement</a> at the touchscreen ordering system at convenience store Wawa.
Barack Obama And The Private Sector
President Barack Obama is not exempt from the "gotcha" moment. In June, he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/08/obama-doing-fine-private-sector_n_1581874.html" target="_hplink">described</a> the private sector economy as "doing fine." The gaffe immediately elicited comparisons with his 2008 Republican opponent, John McCain, who said that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong" in the midst of a crippling financial crisis.