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Former Boone County Clerk Burks enters race to succeed Luetkemeyer in Congress

In 2008 when Taylor Burks was a student at Truman State, he helped organize a Republican primary debate in the 9th Congressional District race that Blaine Luetkemeyer ultimately won.

Fast-forward 16 years, and the 9th District is no more, but Burks is joining an increasingly crowded GOP primary to succeed Luetkemeyer to represent Missouri’s 3rd District, which includes portions of central and eastern Missouri.

“I think we need a strong candidate to talk about the issues that matter to all the 3rd District but have a mid-Missouri perspective,” Burks said Monday.

Burks is a Navy veteran who previously served as Boone County clerk. He ran unsuccessfully for Missouri’s 4th Congressional District seat in 2022, coming in fourth in a contest that Mark Alford ultimately won.

He said his experience running in that election sets him up well for the race to succeed Luetkemeyer, who announced his retirement in January. He noted that as of now, he's the only major mid-Missouri candidate in the race, as former state Sen. Bob Onder of St. Charles County and state Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman of Arnold are from the St. Louis area. Fenton truck driver Brandon Wilkinson, who ran against Luetkemeyer in 2022 and 2020, is also running again.

“I have the ability to work in and represent the farmers and rural communities, small business owners in the third district, and then go to places like downtown Columbia or St. Charles and hear the issues that face the more suburban areas,” Burks said.

He also touted his military experience because it gives him a different perspective on matters such as foreign aid packages.

“It certainly informs how we have to approach where the United States military is deployed, where our foreign aid is sent,” Burks said. “And so it's a different perspective. That doesn't mean I'm all for spending billions of dollars in places that don't make us more secure. But I also know that there are places we need to spend money to make this country safer for the future.”

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Unfinished field?

While Burks is currently the only mid-Missouri candidate to enter the race, he may not be the last. Former Sen. Kurt Schaefer, who represented Boone and Cooper counties for eight years, is also considering getting into the contest.

Burks said Schaefer’s decision won’t affect his 2024 plans.

“We have two strong candidates from outside the district who've been running for over a month,” said Burks, who lives in southern Boone County. “And it's time for mid-Missouri to jump in and say: ‘Hey, this is the guy we're getting behind.’”

Burks is referencing that Onder and Coleman live just outside the 3rd District. Candidates for Congress do not have to reside in the districts where they’re running, and Onder and Coleman note they either represent or have represented substantial portions of the 3rd District in the past.

Coleman and Onder have proven themselves to be solid fundraisers in past elections. And Onder has the ability to self-fund, as he did when he ran for the 9th District against Luetkemeyer in 2008.

Burks said he’ll have the resources to be a contender.

“We're going to have access to more resources than we did in ‘22 and have a stronger base of support to win the 3rd District,” he said.

Copyright 2024 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Since entering the world of professional journalism in 2006, Jason Rosenbaum dove head first into the world of politics, policy and even rock and roll music. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Rosenbaum spent more than four years in the Missouri State Capitol writing for the Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri Lawyers Media and the St. Louis Beacon.