Missouri's 4th Congressional District primaries see some new faces

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | 4:28 p.m. CDT; updated 10:02 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 23, 2014
In Missouri’s 4th Congressional District primaries on Aug. 5, incumbent Vicky Hartzler is running against John Webb for the GOP nomination and Randy Langkraehr is running against Herschel Young for the Libertarian nomination. Democrat Nate Irvin is running unopposed.

COLUMBIA — Republican John Webb will challenge U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler with a more conservative platform for the GOP nomination in the 4th Congressional District primary election. 

Two libertarians, Randall Langkraehr and Herschel Young, will face off for the libertarian nomination, and Democrat Nate Irvin is unchallenged.

The primaries will be held Aug. 5.


Vicky Hartzler

If re-elected, Hartzler will would push for legislation that would create jobs, get the country out of debt and focus on an affordable energy supply, the incumbent said.

Vicky HartzlerHartzler, first elected to the House in 2010, is rounding out her second two-year term. She defeated Teresa Hensley for re-election in 2012 with a 24.8 percent margin of victory, according to election results on the Missouri Secretary of State's website. She won 23 out of 24 counties in the district, losing only in Boone County.

With her landslide victory in 2012, Hartzler said she feels good about the election but isn't taking anything for granted.

Hartzler, 53, lives on a working farm in Cass County with her husband, Lowell, and her daughter, Tiffany. She graduated from MU in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in education, then received her master's degree in education from Central Missouri State University, now the University of Central Missouri, in 1992. Before joining the U.S. House of Representatives, she was a public school teacher, a small-business owner and a state representative, according to her website.

Hartzler, who serves on the House Armed Services, Agriculture and Budget committees, has focused on stopping the “intrusion of the federal government” in citizens’ everyday lives, according to her website.

“I’m co-sponsoring bills to push back on EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) proposals that would raise our energy bills,” Hartzler said.

She authored the Leave Our Lakes Alone Act, which was introduced in 2012, which stopped the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from demolishing 1,200 Lake of the Ozarks homes. The act gave control of federally regulated shorelines to the states.

According to her website, she worked to pass legislation that prioritized national defense and helped pass a farm bill that reduced farm policy spending and provided regulatory relief provisions.

She said she supports Amendment 1, the proposed “Right to Farm” amendment to the state constitution. It would “forever guarantee” the rights of farmers and ranchers , according to previous Missourian reporting.

The proposed amendment "is a common-sense, proactive initiative that I hope everyone will support,” Hartzler said.

John Webb

Webb, 60, who considers himself a Constitutional Fiscal Conservative, is seeking public office for the first time to “reduce the size and scope of the federal government at every possible level,” according to his website.

John WebbWebb said he believes GOP primary opponent Hartzler is "not conservative enough" and "too weak" on government spending. He said he wishes to push the country's legislators toward a more constitutional focus.

"There's a lot of votes that are not as conservative as I would like her to be," Webb said of Hartzler. "And I believe that a great number of people have expressed the same feelings to me."

He said he's especially displeased with her vote in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act. He is also upset with her votes in regard to the National Security Agency.

"I believe the government needs to have a warrant before they go collecting information on American citizens," Webb said.

He said he thinks that the federal government has become too large and that it has overreached its enumerated powers outlined in the Constitution and that shows in the government's spending habits.  He said he would like to see what the federal government spends money on compared to what it's authorized to do in the Constitution.

"I am unhappy with the way our government appears to be headed," Webb said. "I am constitutional, and I want to see our country get back to it."

Webb was part of the Kansas City Police Department from 1971 to 1983. He completed his training to become a police officer in 1976. Seven years later, he left the department because of a permanent injury that prevented him from working.

In the 12 years he spent in the department, Webb said his oath to protect the Constitution and its principles became very important to him. He plans to uphold that oath once elected, according to his website.

Being an officer "increased my awareness of the Constitution, the constitutional principles and the rights of our citizens," he said.

Webb moved to rural Cass County 36 years ago after marrying his wife, Mary.  They raised a son and a daughter and have four grandchildren.

"I love that I have had the ability to raise them and do the best I could in that process," Webb said.

As the owner of a small computer consulting business for the past 20 years, he said he's a strong believer in the free market. He said capitalism's inherent competition is a "fantastic environment" for producers of goods and services and is part of what made the United States great. 

"We should have the freedom to produce a product with as little government interference as possible," Webb said.


Nate Irvin

Nate Irvin started an ambitious campaign swing through Missouri on July 14, which will take him through 18 counties in 18 days.  Those counties represent three-quarters of the 4th Congressional District, where Irvin is running as the sole Democrat in the Aug. 5 primary.

Nate IrvinIrvin, 25, plans to be in Columbia on that day to cast his vote. The candidate, who lives in Columbia, is a 2011 graduate of the University of Central Missouri, where he studied political science with a specialty in international relations. He grew up in Versailles, Mo.

He has spent the past three years working in Iowa, New York, Connecticut and Missouri, campaigning for various Democrats. In New York, he campaigned for Christine Quinn, who came in third in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary, losing to Bill de Blasio, who went on the win the general election, and Bill Thompson.

In 2012, Irvin was part of a Missouri coordinated campaign for all Democrats with Claire McCaskill as its primary focus. He was a campaign organizer, helping to build a grassroots movement of voters.

"Getting folks to come together and build a community movement to bring change is a lot of work," Irvin said. "But at the end, it's worth it."

Just four days into his 18-day trip, he has already learned a lot, he said.

"You learn that each county has its own culture. They have their own demeanor, too," Irvin said. "It's pretty amazing how diverse the district is."

If he's elected, he said, his main goals would be to rebuild the economy, get people back to work and refocus on advanced manufacturing.

Irvin, who turns 26 in December, just meets the age requirement of 25 to be a U.S. representative.

"We've lived through 9/11, two botched wars, the financial collapse and massive problems with unemployment," Irvin said about members of the millennial generation. "We bring a different view to Washington, a view that is very pragmatic and realistic."

He would represent the district with a "voice of moderation" and "smarter government," he said. He explains smarter government as "a philosophy of pragmatism that looks at the situation at the time and in the context and decides what policy is best. And always being willing to re-evaluate (that policy) at any given time."

He said he would strive to incorporate more technology into government, "not only to reduce the deficit, but also to improve customer service."

Irvin said he thinks accessibility is important and hopes to build a broad consensus on a community level. That's why he gives out his personal cellphone number at every event he speaks at.

"I'm a firm believer that the people who face the issues every day probably have not only a unique but better perspective on how to solve the problems they face," Irvin said.


Randall Langkraehr

Randy LangkraehrRandall "Randy" Langkraehr lives in Warrensburg and received a Bachelor of Arts from Central Missouri State University. He was raised in Emma, a small town about halfway between Columbia and Kansas City off of Interstate 70.

During college, he worked as a medication technician at local nursing homes. He is also the owner and operator of three small businesses, including a tax and bookkeeping office and Davken Co., a marketing business. He became a licensed real estate broker in 1986, according to his website.

Langkraehr did not respond to phone calls or emails in efforts to contact him for this article.

Herschel L. Young

Herschel L. Young has been a Cass County resident his entire life. He said he is running because he wants to "reduce the tax burden on U.S. citizens."

Herschel L. Young"We can do so much more with this much money," said Young, 47. "We fund so many programs that support the same issue, and there is so much waste."

When he was growing up in Cass County, he said, his family raised him with certain principles, such as showing respect for the flag and his country.

"I respect the American flag more than most people respect their life," Young said.

Before entering politics, Young spent three years as a private in the Army. Serving from 1986 to 1989, he saw many parts of the world and met then-President Ronald Reagan.

"I have seen Third World countries that don’t even know what freedom is," Young said.

The Army is also where he picked up his 'don't back down' attitude, he said. He believes this attitude has led to his political support.

"I am not going to be pushed over," Young said. His campaign pamphlet reads, "When I lock into someone or something, you can’t get me away from it because I commit that thoroughly."

Though running as a Libertarian for Congress, Young has been affiliated with both the left and right side of the political spectrum. On the county level, he has switched between running as a Republican and running as a Democrat three times in his career. After his experiences in all three parties, he said, he feels more at home with the Libertarians.

"I never fit in with either party," Young said. "I just didn’t believe in their platforms or beliefs."

Young was elected Cass County Presiding Commissioner in 2010 but was removed from office the next year in a unanimous Missouri Supreme Court decision because of a state law banning felons from holding an elected position in the state or county. Young pleaded guilty to a Class C felony of second-degree assault in 1995 and was put on probation for three years. 

"I was awarded this felony for doing what was right. I stood up for my wife after a gentlemen spat on her," Young said.

Although Young is barred from holding an office in the state or county, he meets all the requirements to be a U.S. representative because the state law does not apply to federal positions.

Young lost to Thomas Holbrook in the 2012 Libertarian primary. Young received 168 votes, or 42 percent of his party's vote. Three months later, Holbrook received 3.3 percent of the popular vote in the November election.

Young said one thing that distinguishes him from most politicians is that he is not going to go to Washington with a personal agenda.

“When you don’t serve the people you represent,” Young said, “you start to serve yourself.”

Although he campaigned to help Hartzler get elected in 2010, Young said the congresswoman has not kept her campaign promises. He also said she has not been voting for the residents of the district.

“If you’re willing to take away money from others, you should be able to take it out of your own back pockets,” Young said about Hartzler.

Young lives in Harrisonville with his wife, Lora; two rescue dogs; two ducks; and a small herd of goats. Besides his passion for the people, he said he is an avid fan of mud racing.

"The people of America are tired of promises of change," Young said. "It's time to make a difference.

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.

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