In central west Missouri, the rural atmosphere is reinforced by a series of farms and small towns. The fourth district is known for its rich political history - Harry Truman once called the area home, and the rural counties saw numerous debates and skirmishes between pro-slavery supporters and abolitionists. In recent times, however, the area has become a peaceful getaway location and many tourists visit the resort areas around the Lake of the Ozarks.
Since 1976, this area has been represented by the increasingly-liberal Democrat Ike Skelton. Skelton has rarely had a tough fight for his seat, and this has allowed him to slip into the routine of being a Washington insider. But this time, this creature of Washington is facing a pro-Republican environment and Skelton's support for the Pelosi agenda at the expense of his constituents is making this an exciting race. Skelton eagerly supported the Cap-and-Trade - better known as the National Energy Tax - which will raise the cost of energy for his constituents and introduce back-breaking taxes and fees onto the farmers that populate his district. Despite his claims at home that he wants to restrict the Environmental Protection Agency, Skelton goes to Washington and lines up beside Pelosi to vote to increase the agency's budget by 37%.
As if supporting a National Energy Tax that his constituents hate wasn't enough, Skelton has continued working for Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat's leadership by voting for - and then praising - the failed stimulus legislation that cost voters billions and raised unemployment throughout the country.
Fortunately, Missourians have a strong candidate to oppose Skelton this year. Vicky Hartzler served local families in the state legislature until 2001 and has a true Missouri background. She grew up in Cass county and taught junior and high school students in Lebanon and Belton counties. In sharp contrast to the "happy to spend" Skelton, Hartzler is a fiscal conservative who is committed to ending wasteful and inefficient government expenditures. Having grown up on a farm, Vicky understands the responsibilities and concerns that the rural voters in the fourth have about energy independence - and she knows that a new tax on energy isn't going to solve anything.
Even the Democrats in Washington understand the peril that their policies have put Skelton in. After they saw the strength of Vicky's candidacy, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee worked to reserve advertising time in Skelton's district to try and defend the vulnerable incumbent. But it's unlikely that even this payback for his loyal support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi - he votes with her almost 95% of the time - will be enough to save him this time.
I hope you'll take the time to learn more about Vicky and her candidacy as she attempts to prevent Skelton from taking an 18th term and continuing to support the Democrat party-line at the expense of Missourians. You can learn about Vicky on her website and you can follow her campaign on Twitter and Facebook.