With their roles reversed, Rep. Zachary Wyatt, R-2, and Rebecca McClanahan, the two-term incumbent who he beat for his seat during the November 2010 elections, will go head-to-head for a second time to represent Adair County’s district in the House of Representatives.
This time McClanahan is the challenger to Wyatt’s incumbency. McClanahan drove to Jefferson City on Tuesday — the deadline day to file for the November elections — to officially submit her name to be on the Democratic ticket.
The two are running for the newly created district 3, which includes Kirksville and western Adair County, along with Mercer, Putnam and Sullivan counties.
McClanahan said it took some time to make the decision to run for her old seat because elected office is a huge responsibility, but now that she’s filed she’s committed to the race.
“After deep thought, consideration and having time to consult all the people that would perhaps be affected by this decision, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t not do it — because the issues are too important,” McClanahan said.
McClanahan is campaigning about four main issues: economic development, fiscal stewardship, education and better health care solutions, according to a campaign press release Tuesday.
She said another reason she decided to challenge Wyatt for the seat is because she’s received calls from citizens who say their concerns aren’t adequately addressed by the current representative since she’s been out of office.
Wyatt won the November 2010 election with 60.6 percent of the vote in Adair County.
“I really feel like the election in 2010 had very little to do with my campaign,” McClanahan said. “It had very little to do with the campaign that was run on behalf of Zachary Wyatt. It really had very little to do with northeast Missouri. It was more of a national wave.”
She said it’s difficult to tell how the political climate in northeast Missouri has shifted, and she will make decisions about her campaign as it unfolds.
As for Wyatt’s campaign, the first-term representative said he feels good about his chances of keeping his seat for another two-year term when November rolls around.
“My constituents were ready [in 2010] for less government,” he said. “They were ready for a lot of accountability through government, a lot more transparency and I think that resonated and that was why we were able to do so well last election. And I think that will be the same this election.”
With the newly constructed district, Wyatt’s constituents are more conservative, with about 60 percent Republican voters, he said.
Late last week, it seemed like the race might be uncontested because no Democratic candidate had filed with the Secretary of State’s office.
To prevent an uncontested race, Kirksville mayor Richard Detweiler filed last Friday, but withdrew his name when he learned McClanahan planned to enter the race during the weekend.
“With the race that’s going to take place between now and November, I think she’s in the better position to come closer to winning,” Detweiler said. “I thought it was in the best interest in the Democratic party to have the best chance of winning — and I think that’s Rebecca McClanahan — so I withdrew.”
McClanahan was first elected during 2006 when she defeated Republican candidate Nancy Summers for the open seat. During 2008, she won re-election by a margin of about 13.5 percent against Republican challenger Thom Van Vleck.