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Vicky Hartzler, GOP congresswoman from western Missouri, running for U.S. Senate

Vicky Hartzler, GOP congresswoman from western Missouri, running for U.S. Senate

Hartzler announcement next week on potential US Senate bid

FILE - In this March 25, 2014, file photo, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., left, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Hartzler, a mid-Missouri Republican, says she'll make an announcement next week on a possible Senate run. Hartzler is among several GOP leaders said to be eyeing the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Roy Blunt, who announced in March he would not seek reelection in 2022. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke File)

JEFFERSON CITY — U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler on Thursday became the latest entrant in the highly competitive contest for Missouri’s open U.S. Senate seat.

The six-term Republican congresswoman, whose mostly rural district stretches from central to western Missouri, joined a field that includes former Gov. Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt and St. Louis lawyer Mark McCloskey.

Hartzler, 60, announced her candidacy at the Frontier Justice gun store in Lee’s Summit, outside of Kansas City, where she pledged, among other things, to “protect our freedoms.”

“We must defend this nation, against both foreign and domestic threats. We must stand strong for what is right,” she said. “We must not give up or back down. And we, in Missouri, must lead the charge. And that’s why, today I’m announcing I am running for the U.S. Senate — to protect our freedoms, and preserve our greatness.”

Hartzler sought to differentiate herself from the other candidates hoping to succeed U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt by touting her experience in Washington and the results from her time there.

She mentioned a dispute at the start of her tenure in Congress over 1,200 homes at the Lake of the Ozarks the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered removed.

“And after a relentless fight, the feds backed down and the homes of over a thousand Missouri families were saved,” Hartzler said.

She touted her efforts on flood response, her bill to allow law enforcement officers to serve as armed guards at schools, drug-free initiatives and her work to continue government spending on F-15 and F/A-18 fighter jets built in St. Louis County.

One Hartzler bill signed into law in 2017 by President Donald Trump was designed to improve the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to natural disasters.

Hartzler has also fought to keep transgender troops out of the military.

She mentioned her anti-abortion efforts and work to protect “religious freedom.” And she touted her efforts exposing “their (the Chinese Communist Party’s) horrific human rights abuse against the Uyghur Muslims and ... against Christians.”

“I am the only candidate in this race who’s been sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party and I am proud of it,” she said.

‘More than rhetoric’

Hartzler’s campaign said she is a member of the Congressional Executive Commission on China, which was targeted by Chinese sanctions last year.

“Missourians deserve more than rhetoric,” Hartzler said. “They deserve results and, working for and with the good people of our district, I’ve delivered in the U.S. House. And that’s what I will do in the Senate.”

According to a biography provided by her campaign, Hartzler grew up near Archie, Missouri, and was valedictorian of her high school class. She graduated from the University of Missouri and University of Central Missouri. She lives on a farm in Cass County, south of Kansas City, with her husband, Lowell, and daughter, Tiffany.

She served three terms in the Missouri House, between 1995 and 2001. After nearly a decade out of politics, she won the Republican primary in the 4th Congressional District in 2010, then defeated longtime Democratic incumbent Ike Skelton in the general election.

She disclosed last year that her family businesses received $480,000 from a program to help companies during the pandemic.

More Republicans could take a shot at the seat. Three other members of Congress from Missouri — U.S. Reps. Jason Smith, Ann Wagner and Billy Long — have expressed interest in the race but have yet to launch campaigns.

Party primaries are scheduled for August 2022; primary winners will run for the Senate seat in the November 2022 general election.

Blunt, the incumbent, announced in March that he wouldn’t seek a third term in the Senate next year.

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