As first noted here, former state Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville) has filed statements with the FEC to form a committee to run against Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Lexington).

If this candidacy ends Hartzler’s “Friends of Vicky Hartzler” state committee is not yet known. That committee has existed as a candidate committee since 1999 and has donated money for the last 10 years despite the candidate involved being out of office for the last 8 years.

While being a candidate committee for someone who hasn’t been a candidate for 10 years, Hartzler’s committee has stayed busy over the years by giving money to Brad Lager, David Pearce (SD31, 2008), Jim Danner (124th, 2008), Kenny Hulshof, Chris Molendorp (123rd, 2008), Jacob Turk (CD5, 2008), Danie Moore (CD9, 2008), and so on.

(Hartzler committee donations previously covered here)

While Rep. Hartzler’s political checking account campaign committee is unique, the question worth asking is “How viable is this campaign?”

Considering that this candidate has held elective office, that means it’s the most serious challenger to Ike Skelton since 1996. Granted, the last 6 challenges have been from Jim Noland four times, Jim Noland’s daughter Cecilia, and Jeff Parnell. Bill Phelps was the last Republican to come within 30 points of Ike Skelton when he lost by 29.87%.

The only other times that Ike Skelton’s margin victory has been under 30% was 1990 (an awful year for incumbents of all varieties), 1982 (facing another incumbent), and 1976 (when he was first elected). Winning by thirty points 13 times in 17 campaigns is a pretty good percentage.

The CQ article also refers to Jason Rosenbaum noting the possibility of Tom Self or Bill Stouffer running for Congress in 2010. Tom Self running in the 4th district instead of running for the open 28th state Senate district seat would be baffling. Bill Stouffer is term-limited in 2012 and a possibility to seek higher office.

Stouffer currently represents Ray, Lafayette, and Saline counties (along with a variety of other counties in CD6). Those counties accounted for 2411 votes in the CD4 Republican primary in 2008. Cass county provided 2521 votes in that same primary. The reality of Ray and Saline counties not providing many voters in Republican primaries means that in the case of a Hartzler/Stouffer matchup, the areas of interest would be down in the Lake of the Ozarks. And even if it’s unwise to bet against sitting elected officials, Hartzler would have a good shot of beating Stouffer (provided that Stouffer doesn’t raise tons of money and/or Hartzler’s campaign goes poorly).

Considering that the last time CD4 had an uncontested Republican primary was 1998, bet on someone else showing up and producing the $100 receipt in February/March 2010.

But at this point, before we know the climate of 2010, or the prevailing message of the opposition candidate, it is too early to predict how well you expect Ike Skelton to do in this election. Although if the past is precedent, he’ll win by a comfortable margin due to his record and his clout on committees of importance to the district.

Downplaying a former elective official who wrote a book on campaigning would be pretty unwise at this time too. As a KC sports fan, nothing is for sure until it’s really obvious.