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Rowden formally kicks off state senate campaign

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Rep. Caleb Rowden officially kicked off his campaign for the 19th state senate district today with a press release and campaign video.

Rowden, so far the only Republican in the race, will be running against Democrat Stephen Webber, a fellow House member with the state party’s endorsement. Rowden’s formal announcement comes weeks after he confirmed he’d be entering the race for the 19th district, a seat long considered safe by Democrats until Republican Sen. Kurt Schaefer won back-to-back elections. Schaefer, now waist-deep in the primary for Attorney General, is leaving a seat that Republicans and Democrats alike see as winnable.

Rowden’s video features the candidate with his young son and wife playing in a park in typical fashion. He also issued a press release with endorsements from fellow Republican members from the 19th district.

“Caleb is my friend and has been a tireless advocate for mid-Missouri over the last three years,” wrote Rep. Caleb Jones. “The 19th Senate District needs continued effective leadership in the Missouri Senate, and Caleb is that leader. I am proud to endorse his campaign.”

Most political insiders are already expecting the eventual general election between Rowden and Webber to be perhaps the most compelling down-ticket race to watch in 2016. Rowden touted his time on the House budget committee, as well as his support for ethics reform.

“I believe the time is now for us to pass meaningful ethics reforms in Jefferson City,” Rowden wrote in a statement. “The last number of years have highlighted a series of problems that we must find clear and functional solutions that will restore the public’s trust in our process.”

The Missouri Democratic Party was quick to counter on social media that Rowden was a frequent acceptor of gifts from paid lobbyists, a rapid response likely indicative of a heated campaign to come.