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Skelton launches challenge for Rowden’s Senate seat

Former Missouri Senate attorney Michela Skelton is hoping to return to the state Capitol — but this time as a senator representing the Columbia area. 

Skelton, a Democrat, has officially launched her campaign in an attempt to unseat Republican Sen. Caleb Rowden, the majority floor leader. 

“Caleb Rowden and the Missouri GOP have launched a full-out assault on Missouri’s women, working families, and small family farmers, from the unconstitutional abortion ban and attacks on workers’ rights to curbing local control and gutting education funding,” Skelton said in a statement. “Our communities and our children can’t take another four years of Rowden’s brand of leadership, with a Senate that pushes job-killing, anti-democratic legislation on behalf of corporate lobbyists and millionaire donors.” 

Skelton unsuccessfully ran against Republican Rep. Sara Walsh for HD 50 in 2017 (a special election) and 2018. 

“Working for the non-partisan Senate research office, I drafted dozens of bills for senators on both sides of the political aisle. I gained invaluable legislative experience and got a firsthand look at what it takes to get a bill from concept through committee and floor debate to the governor’s desk,” Skelton said on her campaign website

“But I also saw just how broken the system can be, how the deck is stacked against working families and everyday Missourisn,” she continued. “Working for the Senate opened my eyes to the true level of dysfunction in our state government. The needs and desires of lobbyists, big-money donors, and out-of-state special interests almost always won out at the expense of citizens and local communities.” 

Rowden joined the state Senate in 2016 after defeating Democratic state Rep. Stephen Webber in the campaign for SD 19. A former state representative, 2019 was Rowden’s first year serving as the majority floor leader in the Senate — which was largely considered to be a success. 

“Serving the people of mid-Missouri has been an incredible honor. But this race isn’t about me — it’s about doing everything we can to fight for better schools, a stronger economy, and a safer community,” Rowden told The Missouri Times. “I welcome Michela to the conversation, and I look forward to engaging in a vibrant debate in the coming year.” 

“We’ve made incredible progress across our community, and we will continue to work hard to move mid-Missouri forward,” Rowden said. 

Rowden reported having more than $158,000 cash on hand in the most recent quarterly filings. 

Skelton said she plans to focus on workers’ rights, health care, education, and rural investment. 

She has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in public administration and policy analysis from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She also attended law school at Washington University in St. Louis.