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Columbia Missourian

Cass County Democrat plans to run for congressional seat

By Yue Xi
January 30, 2012 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Cass County Prosecuting Attorney Teresa Hensley plans to seek the Democratic nomination to run against Republican U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler in the 4th Congressional District, which was redrawn recently and would include Columbia and Boone County.

Hensley is forming her campaign committee but has yet to set a date to make an official announcement of her candidacy. She could not be reached for comment and forwarded questions to her campaign adviser, Mark Nevins.

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Nevins said Hensley wants to run for the seat because she is frustrated by what she sees as a lack of progress being made by Congress to create jobs. 

"She felt the Congress seems to be more interested in fighting than getting anything done for people in Missouri, " Nevins said.

Hensley earned a law degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She started Hensley Law Firm in 1991 with her husband, Kenny Hensley, and worked as an attorney until she was elected Cass County prosecutor in 2005.

Last year as the county prosecutor, Hensley sued the county's newly elected presiding commissioner, Herschel Young, arguing he did not qualify for the job because he had a felony conviction. The commissioner, a Republican, was later ousted. He has criticized the lawsuit as politically motivated, according to a Kansas City Star report.

Phyllis Fugit, chairwoman of Boone County Democratic Central Committee, said she met Hensley on Monday night at the committee's chili supper.

"All I know is that she is running, and she seems to be a good candidate for the 4th District," Fugit said.

Hartzler has represented the 4th District since she defeated 33-year Democratic incumbent Ike Skelton in 2010. Columbia and Boone County now are part of the 9th District, which is represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, but they would become part of the 4th District following a redistricting last year.

The new congressional boundaries, however, are being challenged in court.

Hensley is a native of Cass County. Nevins said her focus on jobs and the economy should appeal to MU students and to other voters in Columbia.