State Sen. Rick Brattin became the fifth Republican to enter Missouri's 4th Congressional District Republican primary Monday, announcing his bid by declaring that his conservative record outshines his GOP rivals.
As he announced his campaign, Brattin said he didn't believe Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election and he would have voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill that will bring almost $7 billion to the state for road and bridge repairs.
Democrats used the COVID-19 pandemic to ignore election laws to steal the 2020 election, Brattin said, repeating elements of what is called the "Big Lie" about the results.
"(COVID-19 election changes) led to the exploitation of it and the capability of the fraudulent voting," Brattin said. "I do believe that Trump did win the election."
Brattin is among those hoping to replace U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who is seeking the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. Other candidates are reportedly looking at the race in one of the two Missouri congressional districts where there will be no incumbent on the ballot.
The other is the 7th Congressional District in southwest Missouri, where U.S. Rep. Billy Long is also seeking the Senate nomination.
No prominent Democrat has surfaced to run in the 24-county district that leans heavily Republican and stretches from Audrain County in northeast Missouri to the Kansas border. Since it was drawn to its current boundaries in 2012, Hartzler has won five re-election campaigns with an average of 65.7 percent of the vote, winning every county in every election except the most populous, Boone County in central Missouri.
The boundaries of the district are not certain. It has grown in the past 10 years and will have to lose a small amount of population. The two largest counties are Boone, with almost 184,000 people, and Cass County, Brattin's home, with almost 110,000 people.
Lawmakers will set the boundaries at their next session starting in January.
Brattin chose Monday for his announcement, he said, because it is the 20th anniversary of his entry into the U.S. Marine Corps, which he joined after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"I feel that we are under attack domestically," Brattin said. "That is why I am answering this call."
Brattin has been in elective office since 2011, when he began his first term in the Missouri House. After four terms, he was elected Cass County auditor before winning his seat in the state Senate last year.
He sponsored several bills this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and unrest last year after the death of George Floyd. His bills did not pass, but several provisions were included in legislation signed by Gov. Mike Parson, including limits to cuts in law enforcement budgets and more protection for police accused of misconduct.
"The people that have jumped into this race, they don't have that proven track record," Brattin said.
The other candidates already in the race are:
Mark Alford, a long-time Kansas City television news anchor. Alford announced his campaign in late October and has not filed any financial disclosure reports.
Kalena Bruce, a farmer who lives in Stockton and who also operates an accounting firm in Bolivar. Bruce has raised $180,000, including an $80,000 loan to her own campaign.
Taylor Burks, who was appointed Boone County clerk in 2017 and named director of the state's Division of Labor Standards in December 2018 after losing the office narrowly to a Democrat. Burks is an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and was stationed in Kuwait supporting military logistics during the Iraq War. Through the end of September, Burks had raised $186,000, including a $76,000 loan to the campaign.
State Rep. Sara Walsh, R-Ashland, who won her first election in 2017. Walsh has been a member of the Republican State Committee since 2013. Walsh was a volunteer on Hartzler's 2010 campaign and is the widow of Steve Walsh, who was Hartzler's press secretary until his death from COVID-19 in the summer. Her campaign reported $49,000 in contributions through the end of September, including a $10,000 loan from the candidate.
Missouri Scout, a subscription service reporting state government and political news, reported Monday morning former state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, of Columbia, is considering getting into the race. Schaefer, who lost the 2016 primary for attorney general to Josh Hawley, could not be reached for comment.
Some prominent Republicans have passed on the race. Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, of Columbia, said last week he would not seek the nomination.
Brattin said he feels compelled to join the race because of who else is already entered.
"I really, truly feel that we are the Alamo stage between liberty and freedom or tyranny and socialism and communism takeover in America," Brattin said.
Throughout his announcement event Monday, Brattin returned to the idea that none of the other Republicans in the race had conservative credentials that stack up next to his.
"I just pray and hope that America sees this moment for what it is and sends the right people to Washington," Brattin said, "and not just the people who promise these things but won't deliver."
The Missouri Independent is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization covering state government and its impact on Missourians.