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CD 4 Tipsheet: July 2021

  

It’s still too early to really handicap the race. Hell, the district isn’t even drawn yet and is likely to change slightly or radically depending on whether Republicans go for a 7-1 map instead of the 6-2 Republican status quo. However, the field will likely be shaped in the coming weeks depending upon which of the two Calebs decide to run, then which if either of the state senators currently representing the western side of the district choose to run.

Let’s look first at the man who hasn’t put out anything about running for Congress in 2022, coincidentally the whale in the district who would instantly begin the race as the front-runner: Caleb Jones. He is a former state representative and currently runs the Missouri Association of Electric Coops. That is a big resume to start with, but he probably knows more people by name in the district than anyone else and can unquestionably raise the most money. The biggest questions for Caleb Jones are: Does he want to leave one of the best jobs in Missouri? And does he want to be in Washington while his kids are young? If he chooses to run, then the race has a clear front-runner; if he doesn’t then the front-runner will be…

Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden. Sen. Rowden just wins elections. Ones that he shouldn’t win, he still wins. Ones where he is the underdog, he still wins — primaries, general elections, leadership elections he is just a winner. He has put out a statement that would indicate that he is running and has made the trip to Washington to be pitched on the race. Now he has to decide if he is in. If he is the Caleb who runs, then he starts as the fundraising leader and will probably get attacked out of the gate, as he already has been by one of his potential opponents about running for Congress while having a key role in drawing those maps. However, that would probably do more to show casual observers who are potential donors that he is the front-runner more than actually harm him. If you had to guess today who is the most likely to be representing the 4th in two years, I would guess it’s likely Congressman Rowden.

What many people forget is that rural Republican primaries are about geography and money. If you have a candidate or two out of Boone County, then you would have a golden opportunity for someone from the western side of the district to step in and swipe the race. With already three likely Boone County candidates, there are two sitting state senators — who, by the way, aren’t up for re-election in 2022 — Denny Hoskins and Rick Brattin who would be top-tier contenders.

Sen. Hoskins is from Johnson County which makes up a little more than 5% of the district. Add in Howard County which is in his Senate district which raises his base to around 7% of the district to start from. As a sitting senator, he can raise money, and most any version of the 4th will include Johnson County. Sen. Hoskins will also do very well campaigning in the rural parts of the district, and there aren’t currently any Johnson County rivals he would have to contend with. He will be a top contender should he run.

The other senator from the west is Sen. Brattin. His home county of Cass makes up nearly 15% of the vote, and when you factor in the Senate district he just won, a pretty competitive hard-fought primary in that number jumps to over a fourth of the entire primary electorate. Sen. Brattin has a pretty solid makeup for a congressional run, he is a good campaigner, and has a record that would be hard to get to the right of. A couple of reasons not to run would be his friend Ryan Johnson from Cass County is running and former Sen. Ed Emery, who supported him in his primary two years ago, is also running. Both of whom could cut into his demographic advantages. Also, Rick Brattin is a genuinely nice guy and might not want to run against his friends and also might want to enjoy the state Senate a while before looking to move up the ladder.

The announced candidates

Former state Sen. Ed Emery
Former state Sen. Ed Emery surprised some by being the first out of the gate to announce — and surprised even more by dropping $100,000 into his campaign coffers. He has represented nearly a fourth of the district while in the state Senate and has a conservative voting record that would be very hard to get to the right of. His presence in the race might make him the leading candidate from the west, and if he can post another $100,000 quarter, then he will cement himself as a top-tier candidate and maybe limit his opponents on the western side of the district.

Former state Sen. Ed Emery
Contributions this cycle: $25,392.50
Cash on hand: $123,370.17


Cass County Commissioner Ryan Johnson
One of those candidates from the west is Cass County Commissioner Ryan Johnson. Those in the Capitol will remember him as a lobbyist for conservative causes and a committed activist. In 2020, he turned that activism into a successful run for county office. He has the connections to get in front of the donors and the connections to get his calls taken by any activist in the district. He announced in mid-June but has only recently started his fundraising so the 3rd quarter will be very telling for him. One interesting note is that he apparently has Rep. Jered Taylor from the Springfield area supporting his campaign in an official capacity. That is an indicator of his ability to recruit conservative activists to his efforts. Also the supportive tweet from the Missourian perhaps the best connected in D.C. circles Gregg Keller didn’t go unnoticed by the Stein of Knowledge.

Cass County Commissioner Ryan Johnson
Contributions to this cycle: N/A
Cash on hand: N/A


Rep. Sara Walsh
Rep. Sarah Walsh will run hard and has a lot of ties to Republican activists in the central Missouri area, and her husband is close to Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler. She will have to find a way to improve her fundraising from her statehouse career, but she has put together a good team, and coming from Boone County with 12% of the primary vote she has a solid base to build from if she is the only Boone Countian running.

Rep. Sara Walsh
Contributions to this cycle: N/A
Cash on hand: N/A


Former Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks
Another candidate hailing from that 12% of the vote in Boone County is Taylor Burks. He is a former Boone County official and a veteran and apparently has some connections to put together a war chest. His campaign’s 3rd quarter will be telling. If neither of the Calebs runs, and he put together $100,000, then he will start to become a top-tier candidate.

Taylor Burks
Contributions to this cycle: N/A
Cash on hand: N/A