At a recent campaign stop outside of Kansas City, Missouri gubernatorial candidate Sarah Steelman was extolling her plan for ethics reform.
Suddenly, a woman in the audience interrupted.
"I like what you're saying about ethics in government," the woman said. "But whenever I mention your name, most people have never heard of you."
A few moments later, another woman had a question.
"How do you differ from … well, from … from your opponent — what is his name?”
That would be Kenny Hulshof.
The statements dramatize the situation facing the two leading candidates for the Republican nomination less than two weeks before Missouri's Aug. 5 primary. Steelman, the state treasurer from Rolla, and Hulshof, a six-term congressman from Columbia, both in public office a decade, are little known outside their home districts.
The low name recognition stems partly from their late starts. Each jumped into the race in January after Republican Gov. Matt Blunt unexpectedly dropped out.
And it may be the result of a campaign focused on wooing voters in heavily Republican southwest Missouri. Both candidates are playing up their credentials as social conservatives. But the similarities largely end there.