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Columbia Missourian

Former House and Senate member announces candidacy for 9th Congressional District

February 26, 2008 | 9:46 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — A second person who has represented Columbia in Missouri’s legislature has joined the campaign for the 9th Congressional District.

Ken Jacob, a former member of the Missouri House and Senate, said he has opened an exploratory committee with every intention of entering the race. The seat is currently held by another Columbian, Republican Kenny Hulshof, who is giving up his seat to run for governor.

“I’m not sitting here saying I’m going to open an exploratory campaign with the intention of not running,” Jacob said. “I’m opening an exploratory campaign for the purpose of putting together the resources necessary to successfully run and win in the 9th Congressional District.”

Jacob’s son is one of his chief political advisers and his nephew will be his finance director. But for all the youth involvement in the campaign, Jacob said his campaign will largely focus on the aging population of the 9th District.

“This district is an aging population. They’re going to be dependent on Social Security, Medicare, and proper health care. People need to be taken care of; it’s one of my first priorities,” Jacob said, adding that if elected he will only do things to strengthen the two programs.

Jacob had risen to the Senate’s Democratic leader before term limits forced him out of the Senate in 2005. He now is the general counsel to the state auditor.

Jacob said he is entering the race at a time when change, especially regarding health care, is finally possible.

“Most of my political life, that margin of change has been very small,” Jacobs said. “So you make incremental improvements in health care, you include children, you take care of veterans, you take care of a portion of the population. I really believe that after the November elections, the margin of good that can be achieved is very broad. We have to get it done. Universal health care has to be passed in my first two years in Congress.”

Columbia’s other candidate is state Representative Judy Baker, a democrat. Baker announced her candidacy earlier and, unlike Jacob, formally filed for the race on the opening day Tuesday.

Baker said she also is making health care the crux of her campaign.

“Because that’s my expertise, I think I can make some real difference in Washington because there’s really very few Congress-people who have health care system expertise and I think I can bring a fresh perspective to that.” Baker said.

Baker also said she wants health care access for all so that people can stop using the emergency room.

“I’d like for us to not use the emergency room for preventative care,” she said.

In addition to health care, Jacob also wants to focus some attention on the economy by addressing the debt many college graduates face and increasing access to higher education so young people are better prepared for the workplace.

Jacob brings 22 years of legislative experience to the table, having been a seven-term legislator and a two-term senator, including a stint as the Senate minority leader. Jacob earned two degrees part-time during his time in office: a master’s degree in public administration and a law degree, both from MU.

According to Jacob, his record includes a history of college scholarship programs, including Bright Flight, as well as being floor handler of one of the largest tax cut bills in Missouri history.

Central Missouri has another former lawmaker in the race — Moberly’s former House member Steve Gaw. Gaw had risen to the legislature’s most powerful position of House speaker before his unsuccessful campaign for secretary of state in 2000 when he lost to Matt Blunt, who won the governorship four years later.

After his defeat, Gaw was appointed to the utility-regulating Public Service Commission. With his term expired, Gaw said he has made campaigning his full-time job.

Gaw has made the economy the center of his campaign, focusing on attacking gas prices and making sure all have access to affordable utilities.

“There needs to be someone listening to the people who are trying to pay the bills, stand up for the consumer,” Gaw said. “I’ll do that in Washington if I get the opportunity to serve.”