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Meet The Republican Candidates In Missouri Senate District 31

Crysta Henthorne
KCUR 89.3

Rep. Jack Bondon, Cass County auditor Rick Brattin and farmer Bill Yarberry (no photo available) are competing in the Republican primary.

The frontrunners for a heated Republican primary for Missouri’s Senate District 31 both support President Donald Trump, want to end abortion and promise to cut waste in the budget.

However, the candidates diverge on their support for tax credits and what they would protect if a budget shortfall forces cuts. A PAC tied to the Senate Conservative Caucus — a six-member group that’s opposed some of Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s priorities around workforce development — has poured more than $225,000 to support Cass County auditor and former state representative Brattin. He gained national attention in 2014 after introducing legislation that would have required women wanting an abortion to get written approval from the man who impregnated her.

Brattin faces off against Rep. Jack Bondon who has the endorsement of groups like Missouri’s Farm Bureau, Missourians for Life, the Missouri Chamber PAC and the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police. Bill Yarberry, a farmer, is also running in the Republican primary. District 31 is heavily Republican and spans Cass, Henry, Bates and Vernon counties. Republican Sen. Ed Emery is termed out after representing the district for eight years.

The winner will face Democratic candidate Raymond Kinney, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Here’s where the candidates stand on the key issues:

Jack Bondon

Occupation: Current State Representative
Campaign Website: https://jackbondon.com/

Coronavirus: Bondon said the government’s job is to give businesses and individuals information about the virus, however, he disagrees with a government mandate.

“A one size fits all policy, whether it comes across the city as big as Kansas City or across the entire state, is not the wisest choice,” Bondon said. “The wisest choice is to leave the decisions to the private sector, private businesses who are part of that community.”

Budget: Bondon said he wants to protect programs that serve people who are vulnerable to the virus from budget cuts. He said it’s too early to know the full extent of the revenue shortfall so he can’t yet say what he would cut.

Senate Conservative Caucus: Bondon said like Sen. Ed Emery he won’t belong to the Senate Conservative Caucus. Bondon describes himself as a “conservative fighter,” but he won’t “promise or sell away my vote to a voting block and forego the opportunity and the responsibility of representing the people right here at home.”

Abortion: Bondon said he wants to see “all abortion ended across this entire state.”

Tax Credits: Bondon supports tax credits for businesses on a case by case basis.

“Certain tax credits can prove their worth and have a multiplier effect across the entire state economy,” Bondon said. “When we see good tax credit programs that work, they create jobs, and pay far more back into the economy than was given, I support those.”

Rick Brattin

Occupation: Cass County Auditor and Former State Representative
Campaign Website: brattinforsenate.com

Coronavirus: Brattin said local governments shouldn’t be able to say what businesses are essential and shut down nonessential businesses in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

“People need to be able to choose what they believe is their best approach,” Brattin said.

Budget: Brattin called funding for schools, roads and public safety “essential government functions” that should be prioritized. Brattin said “there's plenty of waste in government that we could really narrowly tailor cuts,” but declined to give specifics.

Senate Conservative Caucus: A PAC tied to the Senate Conservative Caucus has donated to a PAC supporting Brattin. When Brattin was a state representative, he helped create the House Conservative Caucus.

Abortion: Brattin received national attention after introducing a bill in 2014 as a state representative that would bar physicians from performing an abortion until “the father of the unborn child provides written, notarized consent to the abortion.” The bill provides an exception if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

Tax Credits: Brattin isn’t in favor of tax credits for businesses and said it hurts the state’s revenue.

“All these corporations hire the big lobbyists to write their special law, to get them the special kickbacks,” Brattin said. “... the mom and pop shops and the everyday taxpayer are the ones that are gonna fund everything.”

Occupation: Farmer
Campaign Website: n/a

Coronavirus: Yarberry said the only “real hope” to addressing the coronavirus is a vaccine.

Budget: Yarberry said he supports tax cuts but “only if the state budget can afford it.” Yarberry said if the state budget is in a crisis he would support reversing a corporate income tax cut that went into effect this year. Yarberry also said he wants the number of state representatives to be reduced to save money.

Senate Conservative Caucus: Yarberry said political labels are often misleading and he thinks of himself as “not the most liberal and not the most conservative” but the “most common sense.”

Abortion: Yarberry said he supports providing counseling for women who have an unwanted pregnancy.

“I hate to sound like a politician, but I actually can see both sides of this issue,” Yarberry said. “As a Christian, of course, I think abortion is wrong… and I most likely would vote that way.”

However, Yarberry said he’s worried about going “back to the bad old days” when “desperate people got not medical doctors” to perform abortions.

Corrected: August 3, 2020 at 11:48 AM CDT
A previous version of this story listed an incorrect link to Rick Brattin's campaign website.
Aviva Okeson-Haberman was the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3.
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