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New maps make residency an issue for candidates in Missouri’s 4th Congressional District

Kalena Bruce of Stockton, a candidate in the 4th Congressional District primary, speaks April 8 at Boone County Republican Lincoln Days in Columbia.
Rudi Keller
Missouri Independent
Kalena Bruce of Stockton, a candidate in the 4th Congressional District primary, speaks April 8 at Boone County Republican Lincoln Days in Columbia.

One candidate has already ended their campaign for Missouri's 4th Congressional District because their home no longer falls within the boundaries, under a new map signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson.

If Missouri’s primary election were held today, three candidates in the 4th Congressional District Republican contest would not be able to vote for themselves.

The new district lines that took effect Wednesday already led state Rep. Sara Walsh of Ashland to quit the campaign she started last year because her home and legislative constituency will now vote in the 3rd District.

Though nothing in law requires a candidate to live in the district, the residency issue is becoming a line of attack in the primary.

About the time Gov. Mike Parson was signing the bill creating eight new districts on Wednesday, one of the candidates running in the 4th District — farmer and accountant Kalena Bruce of Stockton — issued a news release calling on rivals living outside the new boundaries to quit the race.

“I just know that I live and work and own a business and farm in this district and I think it is important that voters understand where their congressman lives and resides,” Bruce said in an interview with The Independent.

After Walsh’s withdrawal, there are seven candidates remaining in the GOP primary — four living in the revised boundaries and three, including the two top fundraisers, who live outside.

The newly redrawn 4th Congressional District runs from northern Boone County in central Missouri to the Kansas border.
Missouri House of Representatives
The newly redrawn 4th Congressional District runs from northern Boone County in central Missouri to the Kansas border.

The leading fundraiser, former Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks, lives in southern Boone County and, like Walsh, his home is now in the 3rd District.

Former Kansas City television news anchor Mark Alford, who has raised the second largest sum, used a Cass County post office box address when he filed for office but as of Thursday morning was registered to vote in Kansas City.

Burks, in an interview, said he will not withdraw. His latest campaign report, for the first quarter, shows he had raised $624,404 for the race, including a personal loan of $76,715 to the campaign, and had $260,452 on hand on March 31.

Burks said he was moving his residency and voter registration address Thursday to family property in northern Boone County and cites a childhood in Dade County, where his grandparents live and which has been a part of the district since 2001, as ties to the district.

“It’s not shocking that Kalena wants all the candidates ahead of her to quit,” Burks said.

Bruce has raised $328,196 including a loan to her campaign of $150,100, of which $80,000 has been repaid. Bruce had $170,136 on hand on March 31.

Her fundraising is “a reflection of how little support she has in the district and why she is asking people to drop out,” Burks said. “Her only qualification seems to be she is a moderate woman and that is who the establishment wants to run for office.”

Alford announced his campaign in late October and he has raised $410,037 through March 31. He had $340,351 on hand and has not put any personal funds into the campaign.

Alford, a long-time anchor on WDAF-TV in Kansas City, could not be reached for comment. But he addressed the residency question in an appearance Thursday on KSSZ radio in Columbia.

In addition to noting that the U.S. Constitution does not require candidates to live in the district they represent, Alford said he, too, intends to move into the district.

Nothing but tradition prevents voters from selecting someone who does not live in the district as representative. A member of the U.S. House must be at least 25 years old, a citizen of the United States for at least seven years and a resident of the state they represent.

“We have been planning to move for sometime and I know the snakes in the Senate did not want us in this race, so we were waiting until the map was released and signed by the governor before we actually made a contract on a house to move into the district,” Alford said.

The 4th District, which runs from central Missouri west to the Kansas border along and mainly south of the Missouri River, and the 7th District in southwest Missouri, are considered safe Republican seats, where the GOP nomination is likely to produce the candidate who wins in November. Both are open this year because the incumbents, Hartzler of the 4th District and Billy Long of the 7th District, are candidates for U.S. Senate. And both drew crowded fields for the Aug. 2 primary.

There are eight candidates in the 7th District and one, Sam Alexander of Fair Play, who does not live in the district because Polk County was shifted into the 4th District in the new map.

Cooper, Moniteau and the southern half of Boone County moved to the 3rd District in the new map, while Randolph County was shifted to the 6th District, as was the portion of Audrain County previously in the district. A portion of eastern Jackson County along with Lafayette and Saline counties were added from the 5th District, as was Polk County.

The third candidate who does not live in the district is Kyle Stonner LaBrue of Osage Beach, who lives in the 3rd District. LaBrue did not respond to an email seeking comment.

LaBrue has raised just under $16,000 for his campaign.

Along with Bruce, candidates who are residents of the district ares state Sen. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, Bill Irwin, a former Lee’s Summit police officer who lives just south of the Jackson County line in Cass County, and Jim (Soupy) Campbell of Climax Springs.

Brattin, in a statement Thursday, did not join Bruce’s call for non-resident candidates to withdraw but noted his long-term residency in Cass County and said that would not change if he is not the nominee.

“I think it’s unfortunate that some candidates have chosen to run for the 4th District despite not living here,” Brattin said. “Unlike some of the candidates in this race, I live here, and I’m going to keep living in the 4th District, win or lose.”

Brattin was the only member of the state Senate who was absent when the new map was approved. Two members of the Senate who are running in the 7th District, Sens. Eric Burlison of Springfield and Mike Moon of Ash Grove, voted against the new map.

Brattin has raised $209,428, including a $30,000 loan to the campaign, and had $173,951 on hand as of March 31.

Barbara Irwin, wife of Bill Irwin, told The Independent that they have lived in the same home in the Cass County portion of Lee’s Summit for 20 years and her husband was “one of the few candidates who lives in the district and has for a long time.”

In addition to his time as a police officer, Irwin is a retired Navy SEAL. He has raised $235,189, including a personal $150,000 loan to the campaign, and had $203,572 on hand on March 31.

Irwin’s campaign is not joining in the call for others to withdraw, Barbara Irwin said.

“We are going to run our campaign and we are just going to do it,” she said. “But it is interesting that some can’t even vote for themselves in the race.”

This story was originally published on the Missouri Independent.

Rudi Keller covers the state budget, energy and the legislature for the Missouri Independent.
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