Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R)
Elected: 2008, 1st term.
Born: May 7, 1952, Jefferson City .
Home: St. Elizabeth.
Education: Lincoln U., B.A. 1974.
Family: Married (Jackie); 3 children.
Elected office: MO House, 1999-2005.
Professional Career: Loan officer, Bank of St. Elizabeth, 1978-2008; Pres., Luetkemeyer Insurance Agency, 1978-08; Dir., MO division of tourism, 2007-08.
The new congressman from the 9th District is Blaine Luetkemeyer, a Republican with Missouri roots that stretch back five generations. He grew up in St. Elizabeth, where his father worked as an insurance agent and then owned a bank. Luetkemeyer (LOOT-ka-myer) was a star high school baseball player, but his tryouts with the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates were unsuccessful. He graduated from Lincoln University, a historically black college in Jefferson City, with a degree in political science. He and his wife settled on his great-grandfather’s farm in St. Elizabeth. In addition to farming, Luetkemeyer became involved in his family’s banking operations and founded the Luetkemeyer Insurance Agency.
|Blaine Luetkemeyer (R)||161,031||(50%)||($2,778,724)|
|Judy Baker (D)||152,956||(47%)||($1,669,071)|
|Tamara Millay (Lib)||8,108||(3%)|
|Blaine Luetkemeyer (R)||21,543||(40%)|
|Bob Onder (R)||15,752||(29%)|
|Danielle Moore (R)||10,609||(20%)|
|Brock Olivo (R)||5,501||(10%)|
In 1999, Luetkemeyer was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives, where he chaired the Financial Services Committee and developed a reputation as a thoughtful legislator. He campaigned for Missouri treasurer in 2004 but lost in the Republican primary. In 2007, Luetkemeyer was appointed director of the Missouri Division of Tourism. Two years later, the 9th District House seat came open when Republican Rep. Kenny Hulshof decided to run for governor to succeed retiring Republican Gov. Matt Blunt. Luetkemeyer entered a five-way GOP primary for Hulshof’s seat. Missouri’s Republican politicos viewed Luetkemeyer as the favorite. The conservative anti-tax group Club for Growth endorsed GOP state Rep. Bob Onder, although Luetkemeyer received a critical endorsement from the anti-abortion group Missouri Right to Life. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the dominant newspaper in the market, complained that no one among the candidates had a good grasp of issues. Still, Luetkemeyer trounced the competition, winning 40% of the vote.
In the general election, Luetkemeyer faced state Rep. Judy Baker, a health care consultant from Columbia. Republicans viewed Baker as an easy mark because they did not think her liberal message would play well in the district’s conservative-leaning rural counties. Luetkemeyer ran as a social conservative opposed to abortion rights and same-sex marriage. He emphasized his farming background to the district’s largely rural constituency. While Baker aligned herself with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s message of change, Luetkemeyer was quick to point to Obama’s campaign comments about small-town Americans. Describing people in small towns where jobs are disappearing, Obama said in April 2008 that they “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
Luetkemeyer also questioned Baker’s health care credentials by pointing out that a private health care company she worked for in 2000 and 2001 lost more than $2 million from 1999 to 2001. Baker countered that she had helped to fix the company’s problems even as auditors were discovering them. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, who served as the state auditor during that period, also defended Baker’s record.
Luetkemeyer opposed Baker’s support for a Democratic proposal to expand federal funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, claiming it would be too costly. Baker criticized Luetkemeyer for sponsoring a bill that would have allowed Missouri insurance companies to offer health policies that did not cover mammograms, maternity benefits, or childhood immunizations. She neglected to note that Luetkemeyer eventually withdrew those controversial provisions from the bill. He also stressed his support for increased offshore drilling, a position that Baker tepidly supported. He was endorsed by the influential Missouri Farm Bureau. Luetkemeyer raised $2.8 million, two-thirds of it his own money; Baker raised $1.7 million. In the election, Baker managed to carry populous Boone County, but Luetkemeyer prevailed in the rural counties and those west of St. Louis in winning 50% to 47.5%.