KIRKSVILLE, MO. — A longtime northwest Missouri representative to the U.S. House made his first visit to Kirksville and met with small business owners as he campaigned Monday to retain his seat in a newly-formed congressional district.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-6), of Tarkio, Mo., visited Steve’s Garden Deli, Dave’s Art Studio and the Wooden Nickel Restaurant during a 45-minute walk of downtown Kirksville before traveling to Rosie’s Northtown Cafe for lunch. He was scheduled to meet with university and health care administrators in the afternoon before holding an evening fundraiser event with Missouri House hopeful Nate Walker.
The veteran congressman is seeking his seventh term in Washington D.C. He has represented the 6th District of Missouri since 2001, but for the first time – due to redistricting after the U.S. Census – Graves will need to gain voters in northeast Missouri. The new 6th District encompasses all of northern Missouri, from the state’s eastern to western borders.
“This is the biggest district Missouri has ever had now,” Graves said. “It’s big. I’m looking forward to it.”
Northeast Missouri had been represented by Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer, who has filed to seek election from the 3rd District.
Graves will face primary challenges from Bob Gough and Christopher Ryan. Democrats Kyle Yarber, Ted Rights, W.A. (Bill) Hedge and Ronald William Harris are vying for their party’s nomination. Libertarian Russ Lee Monchil will also be on the November ballot.
Graves is the chairman of the House Committee on Small Business and serves on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He is also a member of the subcommittees on Aviation, Highways and Transit, and Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.
He said he enjoyed his visit in Kirksville, touring small businesses that he said are the key to U.S. economic growth. He sees his role in Washington as getting “government out of their hair.”
“Right now, [small businesses are] faced with a lot of uncertainties out there. They don’t know what the health care bill is going to cost them, they don’t know what their taxes are going to be because the whole tax code is going to expire at the end of this year, they don’t know what the regulatory environment is going to be because we’re seeing this administration continue to pile on more, and more, and more, and more regulations coming from the departments themselves,” Graves said. “A lot of small businesses are just holding back, waiting to see what happens, and they’re not expanding. If you’re not seeing expansion, particularly when seven out of every 10 jobs are small business jobs, you’re not seeing that expansion and growth in the economy.”