The Maneater

MU doctoral student becomes second Democrat to run for Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s seat

At 28 years old, Hallie Thompson is the youngest candidate looking to be a voice for Missourians in D.C.

Hallie Thompson is running against incumbent Vicky Hartzler, a Republican and supporter of Trump’s policies, including 2017’s travel ban and the American Health Care Act. courtesy of Hallie Thompson

Until the age of 14, Hallie Thompson lived in an early 1900s farmhouse that had no automated air conditioning or heating. She considers herself lucky. Now at 28 years old, Thompson lives in a house where the heat comes from a ventilation system, and she doesn’t have to worry about lugging a log over to her outdoor furnace before going to bed. But she doesn't regret her Moniteau County upbringing.

Although she didn’t play a huge role in sustaining the family beef cattle farm, Thompson saw early on how much of someone’s daily life must be invested to maintain a well-functioning farm. From counting cattle to bottle-feeding the calves, she learned the ropes of a life that many Missourians will never experience.

But the rural Missouri experience wasn’t always positive.

“Growing up on a farm and being part of a family where we had difficulty getting health insurance, I learned early on what it was like to be ignored and left out of a conversation,” Thompson said. “I want to change that.”

Officially announcing her bid on Jan. 31, Thompson is the most recent candidate to throw her hat into the 4th Congressional District race. An MU doctoral student, Thompson will run against business woman Renee Hoagenson in hopes of being the Democratic nominee to run against incumbent Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, in the November elections.

“It must be frustrating for folks who are not seen and heard by those who are supposed to be serving them,” Thompson said. “So I'm running for Congress to not only be a voice for Missourians in D.C., but to also be someone who hears Missourians.”

According to her website, running for Congress is an extension of her advocacy leadership from her time as a plant sciences doctoral student at MU.

Thompson served as president of the MU Graduate Professional Council for two years and as director of legislative affairs for the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students. During her tenure as director, Thompson worked with Congress on issues such as debt and health insurance coverage, in addition to “training other students from across the country to advocate successfully for themselves,” according to her website.

In 2017, Thompson also founded the Missouri Science and Technology Fellowship, a program designed to give scientists a more active role in Missouri government by connecting legislators with scientific experts.

Her scientific background has not only fueled her advocacy work and service to local scientists but has also shaped her approach to policymaking within Congress. As a scientist, Thompson values asking questions about the world around her and finding evidence to answer those questions.

“I take making policy and making conclusions in science with very equal gravity,” Thompson said. “I think that policymakers and representatives should be more humble to ask questions and think really carefully about how they’ll best achieve positive results.”

Thompson has centered her platform around many different issues, including national security, health care coverage and fair wages. If elected, Thompson would also like to promote education, research and teaching in the sciences, as they would have an impact on future legislation and, ultimately, the American public.

“We have to realize that scientific evidence coming out really does affect the policy, specifically climate change,” Thompson said. “That mixes a lot with the future of farmers and a lot of different professions across the states, so it’s a huge issue that affects all of us.”

The current representative in the 4th District doesn't seem to agree. Hartzler has publicly discredited climate change theories, something that Thompson takes great issue with.

“Hartzler has directly made fun of climate change, and it’s very troublesome,” Thompson said. “Whenever you're trying to make policy based on the best knowledge, ignoring that knowledge and even going so far as to make fun of it is not in the best interest of where we're going.”

Thompson believes she makes a stark contrast not only to the incumbent but also to Hoagenson. Because of this, Thompson is looking forward to energetic debates and healthy competition at the Democratic primaries in mid-August.

“It's awesome for voters to have choices like these that do contrast one another and will represent them differently in government,” Thompson said. “I think that the enthusiasm in a primary is really important for a party that's currently out of power.”

The other Democratic candidate, however, doesn’t seem to agree. Hoagenson, who began her campaign in March and raised more than $100,000 by the end of 2017, is concerned that Democratic primaries would create a divide in party that is already a minority in the state.

“I just think we all need to be rowing in the same direction,” Hoagenson said. “This seat race is going to be decided by a handful of votes, and if somebody decides to stay home because this other person didn’t get the nomination, it could literally hand the seat to Hartzler.”

Yet Hoageson and Thompson both agree that the true opponent is Hartzler. The ultimate goal, no matter who ends up doing it, is to turn Hartzler’s seat blue.

“This seat needs a strong candidate and hasn’t had one in a while,” Hoagenson said. “Many of the Republican voters I’ve talked to aren’t really aware of how Hartzler votes against them.”

Both Democratic nominees believe that Hartzler could be doing a lot more to accurately represent her constituents. Thompson in particular plans to develop close relationships with everyone, despite their vote.

“As a good elected official who serves everyone in the district, I want to ensure that everyone… can have benefits seen from the policies we’re making no matter what party affiliation,” Thompson said. “[I want to] serve as a Democrat that can change the hearts and minds of folks that are working with me.”

Edited by Skyler Rossi | srossi@themaneater.com

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