JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The race for the Lake St. Louis House seat of Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger has another contender.
Nina Dean, current Legislative Assistant to Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-Weldon Spring, announced that she intends to run for the seat, making her the second Republican contender to throw their hat in the ring.
Last week, Jamey Murphy, who served former state senator Jim Lembke, announced his plans to run for the seat, adding that he already has received the endorsement from the incumbent, Gatschenberger.
While Gatschenberger technically isn’t being term-limited out of the House, he is running for a Senate seat being vacated by term-limited Sen. Scott Rupp in what already has become one of the more contested primaries for 2014.
Dean, who has a master’s degree in education, tells The Missouri Times she was “thrilled” to be running.
She served Bahr the last three years and says that after redistricting shifted portions of Bahr’s district into Gatschenberger’s, she knows many constituents in the area on a very personal level and feels this gives her an edge in the coming primary.
“I know the people in that area because most of the area was an area I was serving along with [Bahr],” she says.
Dean said her top motivator for running came from working in the Capitol and beginning to understand how things function.
“I’ve been around the House for three years and I know how it works,” Dean said. “People say things to constituents and then do different things once they get there. One thing I have never been accused of is not having the guts to stand by my guns.”
Dean said she will represent a Constitutional Conservative position if elected, and that she doesn’t want to be considered an “establishment Republican.”
“I’m not going to run around seeking the endorsements of establishment Republicans,” Dean said. “Because I don’t consider myself to be an establishment Republican. I’m a constitutional conservative and I want to stand for the true Republican platform.”
Dean says that platform largely means “letting individuals run their own lives” and “not allowing government to play favorites.” She said as a legislative assistant she has encountered bureaucratic snafus and erosion of personal freedom, both of which she thinks must be corrected.
Dean’s choice to run is also sentimental, she says. Her late husband — a military retiree who served in both the Navy and the Marines — always encouraged her to pursue a run for office, but Dean said she always “thought she was too scared.” So now, she’s running in part to honor his memory.
Because Dean works for Bahr in his district, which neighbors the one she’ll be running in, Dean must campaign a little differently. She’ll have to wait until the weekends and the evening to work on her personal efforts, as state law prohibits state employees from campaigning during business hours.
“I’ll be working with [Bahr] during the week and then working my district at night and on the weekends,” Dean said. “It’s a lot of work, but I always feel strange not working anyway. Call me crazy, but I enjoy the work.”