Republican Kenny Hulshof won a sixth term as Missouri’s 9th District U.S. representative on Tuesday, holding off challenges from Democrat Duane Burghard, the Progressive Party’s Bill Hastings and Libertarian Steven Hedrick.
Hulshof defied an anti-Republican sentiment that saw many GOP members of the House of Representatives lose their seats on Tuesday.
“I applaud, and I’m humbled that the people are willing to look beyond the slogans,” Hulshof said while celebrating with fellow Republicans, who were waving red Team Hulshof pennants at the Holiday Inn Executive Center on Tuesday night. “I’m privileged to be your congressman for another term.”
The race might have been closer than Hulshof anticipated. Campaign manager Chris Dunn said before the election that he expected Hulshof to take 70 percent of the vote. During each of the last four campaigns, he said, Hulshof had seen his margin of victory rise.
“It’s been a lot harder than I thought it’d be,” Dunn said about the campaign. “I don’t think the environment that we’re in, any incumbent feels secure.”
Some voters who talked with Missourian reporters in Boone County on Tuesday said they were committed to voting for GOP candidates.
“It’s a very important election, and we need to keep Republicans in the majority of the Congress,” Matthew Wingling said. “We have to defend the value of family and Christianity.”
But William Ruggles of Columbia had the opposite view.
“This Congress hasn’t done anything on the important issues,” Ruggles said. “They’ve wasted their time and our money. ... We need to turn the country around — go the other way.”
Burghard put his position as the CEO of his company, MacXprts, on hold while campaigning for the congressional seat. He ran for the same seat in 1992 as an independent but placed last in a four-man race. This time around, Burghard touted his support for veterans, fiscal responsibility and energy independence. He also called for a strategic redeployment of U.S. troops in the Middle East, allowing them to monitor conflicts in Iraq while stationed in neighboring allied nations.
Burghard watched election returns from a Democratic party at The Blue Note on Tuesday night.
“We all should be proud of this as one of the cleanest House races we’ve ever heard of,” Burghard told supporters at The Blue Note.
Before the speech, Burghard said he was looking toward the future. “Tomorrow we start again. Our principles don’t change because of an election result,” he said. “If we believe, we don’t stop fighting; we keep going.”
Before being elected to Congress in 1996, Hulshof worked as a public defender and then as a prosecutor for the state’s attorney general’s office.
Hastings, who joined the race late after the Missouri secretary of state certified a Progressive Party petition for ballot status, is a retired psychology and business professor who permanently retired to Columbia in 2004. He had a quiet dinner with friends Tuesday night, then retired to one of their homes to watch the election returns. He said he was disappointed about Hulshof’s victory.