JEFFERSON CITY — A Democratic candidate for Missouri’s US Senate seat outlined a 17-point plan Wednesday that she says is aimed at strengthening the middle class.
It also could help Trudy Busch Valentine secure endorsements from key groups, including the AFL-CIO.
Valentine, who is seeking to replace retiring Republican US Sen. Roy Blunt, said her proposal could bring relief to people who are struggling with higher costs of gas, groceries, housing and child care.
“We need to lower the costs for Missouri families. People can’t afford the basic necessities,” Valentine said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s really a troubling time. I don’t think inflation is going down anytime soon.”
Valentine, a political novice who is heir to the Busch brewery family, is vying for the Democratic nomination in the Aug. 2 election against Lucas Kunce, a populist who has raised the most money in the race so far.
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Nine other candidates, including Spencer Toder, an entrepreneur from Olivette, also are vying for Democratic votes.
The wide-open race has the Missouri AFL-CIO considering altering its plan not to endorse a candidate until after the primary.
AFL-CIO President Jake Hummel said Wednesday that a decision by the board on whether to enter the fray could come in the next week.
He said some members of the labor organization had been hesitant to endorse until the primary dust settles.
“I think, for the most part, they didn’t want to choose between friends,” Hummel said.
Valentine said she is a union supporter.
“Unions are paying people really good wages and good benefits,” she said.
Valentine’s proposals focus on issues like preventing another baby formula shortage by addressing the supply chain crisis through an increase in investment in home-grown manufacturing.
Fixing the supply chain also could help farmers, who are facing higher production costs.
“Products needed to grow and protect healthy crops, like fertilizer, are snared in ongoing delays,” the plan says.
That policy mirrors a key plank in Kunce’s campaign. Both want to address business monopolies as a way to lower prices.
Valentine, who owns farmland in Montgomery County, said she will spend much of the primary election focusing on Democratic voters in the state’s major population areas.
But, she pledged to make more forays into the rural, red part of the state if she wins.
“We need to talk about the issues that are facing the farmers,” Valentine said.
Valentine, who is a nurse, also wants Congress to address prescription drug prices, including limiting the cost of insulin for diabetics to $35 per month.
“The reason I am running is because I am a nurse. I will do everything possible to lower those drug prices,” she said. “I will work across the aisle to look at all those issues. These are big issues that people are facing,”
She also is backing a proposal that would address gas price gouging.
Valentine said Congress should boost the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, mandate paid sick leave and offer paid family leave.
“Wage gains haven’t kept pace with inflation and families are losing ground,” she said.
Kunce also backs an increase in the minimum wage and, like Valentine, also supports a change in labor law that would require employees to communicate about and conduct organizing efforts.
That puts them both on track to win support from Big Labor, which is unlikely to devote manpower to candidates who are silent on the issue.
Her plan also includes a proposal to bring down the cost of child care by introducing a sliding scale limit on child care costs for families. She also backs universal pre-school for two years.
Valentine is the daughter of the late Anheuser-Busch beer baron August “Gussie” Busch Jr., who died in 1989. Her mother, Gertrude “Trudy” Busch, was Busch’s third wife.
She has been a major fundraiser for Democratic candidates, but has not previously run for office. In 2016, she held a fundraiser at Grant’s Farm, the historic homestead of the Busch family, for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Posted at 1 pm Wednesday, June 22.