(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)
For the first time in more than 30 years, state Senate District 34 will be represented by someone not currently living in Buchanan County.
However, both Platte County residents, both political newcomers, say they will be good representatives for St. Joseph.
The democrat in the race is Martin Rucker II. He ran unopposed for his party's nomination and is attempting to follow in the footsteps of his father, who served in the Missouri General Assembly.
"That was when I really got bit by the bug because I was able to see the good that you can do with this office if you're there for the right reasons," the younger Rucker said.
Currently, Rucker is a project engineer for Kissick Construction in Kansas City. Rucker says he's never forgotten his St. Joseph roots.
"This is a community that I grew up in," he said. "Even when I was in the NFL, I would come back here and spend significant amount of time in the off-season here in St. Joe doing different volunteer activities and talking to kids at the schools in the community and things like that."
Rucker says he is a strong supporter of unions and says if he wins he wants to place a focus on insuring job safety in the workplace for laborers and affordable healthcare for everyone. The Democrat says he is concerned with what is going on at the state capitol, currently dominated by Republicans in both the House and Senate.
"The only way you can change Jefferson City is that you change the people you are sending there," he said. "You have to look at what's coming out of Jefferson City and say we don't want any more of that."
Rucker's Republican opponent, Tony Luetkemeyer emerged from a bruising primary, beating current Buchanan County Presiding Commissioner Harry Roberts. Luetkemeyer, an attorney from Platte City, at one time clerked for a judge on the Missouri Supreme Court. Luetkemeyer says he is proud of the nation's current conservative economic principles that he says are making a difference nationaly.
"I think we need to be moving job-killing, burdensome regulations out of the way and making sure that we are making it a prosperous place for small businesses owners to creat more good-paying jobs and employ more people in St. Joe."
On healthcare, Luetkemeyer says he's concerned with some of the fallout from the Affordable Care Act.
"I think one of the things that is really important is making sure we are bringing competition back to the marketplace, he said. "Right now, my understanding is that for Medicaid and Medicare, there is only one provider for northwest Missouri. That's a huge problem."
And looking at his opponent, Luetkemeyer says there is a clear difference when it comes to how the government raises revenues.
"I think our differences on tax policy is probably one of our most critical differences," he said. "I don't think I've seen a tax initiative that he has not supported. I believe fundamentally that people should be able to keep their hard earned money. They should be able to keep their taxes and that government is not always the solution to our problem."
Luetkemeyer and Rucker are looking to replace current state Sen. Rob Schaaf, who is term-limiting out of office.
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- Missouri Attorney General Files for Senate Seat
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