News Briefs

Sara Walsh cites loss of voters in new map as she exits race in Missouri’s 4th District

By: - May 16, 2022 12:37 pm

State Rep. Sara Walsh on July 7, 2021, announced she was running for Congress. Walsh withdrew from the race on Monday. (Rudi Keller/Missouri Independent)

State Rep. Sara Walsh withdrew Monday from the 4th Congressional District’s crowded Republican primary, citing the loss of her constituency in the new district maps.

Walsh, who lives in Ashland in southern Boone County, entered the race in July after U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler jumped into the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate. A lawmaker since 2017, Walsh represented portions of Boone, Cooper, Moniteau and Cole counties in the 50th Missouri House District.

The new redistricting maps moved Cooper, Moniteau and the southern half of Boone County from the 4th District to the 3rd District. When the map came up in the House after passage in the Senate, Walsh voted for it, she said in a news release, because it is “good for conservatives” and the state.

“However, the newly drawn district that removes my strongest base of support has a severe impact on the chances of success for my campaign,” Walsh said.

Walsh entered the race with several advantages that made her a formidable candidate in the district. Walsh has been a member of the Republican State Committee since 2013 and her late husband, Steve Walsh, was Hartzler’s press secretary from her first campaign in 2010 until his death from COVID-19 on Aug. 19.

“After a time of grief and prayer, I continued onward, partly in memory of my husband and partly to continue the race set before me – to continue fighting for God and Country like we did our entire marriage,” Walsh said.

Walsh was lagging her rivals in fundraising in the latest campaign reports, filed in April, which showed many of her rivals were also putting substantial personal funds into their campaigns. Walsh, who had raised $124,312 by March 31, had $67,954 on hand and had loaned her campaign $10,000.

“In good conscience, I cannot continue to ask for sacrificial contributions for my campaign from good people who are suffering under skyrocketing gas prices, soaring food prices, baby formula shortages, and other inflationary challenges when my campaign may not be victorious due to the new Congressional District map,” Walsh said in the news release. 

The leading fundraiser in the race is Taylor Burks, former Boone County Clerk and former director of the state’s Division of Labor Standards. His report for the first quarter shows he had raised $624,404, including a personal loan of $76,715 to the campaign, and had $260,452 on hand on March 31.

Other candidates are:

  • State Sen. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, elected to the state Senate in November. A House member from 2011 to 2019, Brattin has operated a construction firm and farms in Cass County. Brattin has raised $209,428, including a $30,000 loan to the campaign, and had $173,951 on hand.
  • Mark Alford, a long-time Kansas City television news anchor. Alford announced his campaign in late October and he has raised $410,037. He had $340,351 on hand on March 31 and has not put any personal funds into the campaign.
  • Kalena Bruce, a farmer who lives in Stockton and who also operates an accounting firm in Bolivar. 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.
  • Bill Irwin, a retired Navy SEAL who lives in Harrisonville, has raised $235,189, including a personal $150,000  loan to the campaign, and had $203,572 on hand.

Two other candidates, Kyle LaBrue of Osage Beach and Jim Campbell of Climax Springs, who have raised little or no money for the race.

Walsh did not endorse any of the remaining candidates.

A Democrat, Jack Truman of Lamar, filed in March but has not reported any fundraising totals. There is also a Libertarian, Randy Langkraehr of Warrensburg, in the race.

This story has been updated since it was initially published.

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Rudi Keller
Rudi Keller

Rudi Keller covers the state budget and the legislature. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he spent 22 of his 32 years in journalism covering Missouri government and politics for the Columbia Daily Tribune, where he won awards for spot news and investigative reporting.