By Tyler Schneider
Missouri House Representative Annette Turnbaugh will face a pair of unique challengers in the Democratic Primary, Aug. 2, in former Republican candidate John Boyd Jr. and young attorney Anthony Ealy. The winner will then go on to face Republican Kurt Lauvstad in November.
Annette Turnbaugh succeeded Joe Runions for the District 37 seat back in 2020. Over the course of her first two years of service in Jefferson City, Turnbaugh, a former Grandview Alderman, admitted that she did not bring any of her own bills to the floor—though she went on to add that she did still co-sponsor a great many of them.
To her credit, Turnbaugh’s voting record shows that she did tend to vote consistently on the moderate-to-left leaning values she had championed in her initial campaign. The Grandview native also served on three committees during her first term: the Conservation and Natural Resources, Rural Development Committees, and the Special Committee on Small Business.
Turnbaugh voted against increased voter ID restrictions and environmental deregulation efforts, to list just a few examples, and consistently backed bills which would expand funding for education and health care coverage for seniors.
If she succeeds in her current reelection bid, Turnbaugh will continue to emphasize issues like creating jobs and reducing unemployment rates, pushing the needle further on healthcare reform, support for the continued expansion of programs like Medicaid, and raising public school teacher base pay statewide.
A strong pro-choice candidate, Turnbaugh said she intends to oppose the recent trigger laws and anti-choice policies that have been established statewide following the Supreme Court’s recent underturning of Roe v. Wade earlier this summer.
“You got doctors who are afraid of what will happen to them now, and we’ve got women that need have to have an abortion in order to survive. And [Republicans] are telling them no,” Turnbaugh said. “When it comes to this topic, it really is a matter of life or death for many women.”
Turnbaugh has always benefited from a healthy amount of support from pro-labor and pro-union organizations, as well as by having an established name that most Grandview and South Kansas City voters are already familiar with. In that sense, Turnbaugh is running mostly on her experience and what she sees as her ability to work across the aisle in what will remain an overwhelming GOP supermajority in Jeff City.
Just as it has for so many others of his generation, the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, marked a turning point in Anthony Ealy’s life.
It helped spur his decision to switch to pre-law. At the time, Ealy was a sophomore studying at Northwest Missouri State University.
“I knew then that I wanted to get into the political arena. I decided to get into the legal field to serve others,” Ealy said. He graduated from NMSU in 2017 and went on to earn his law degree from the University of Missouri in 2020.
Ealy, 27, looks to unseat Turnbaugh in the Democratic Primary on Aug. 2. If elected, Ealy promises to bring “a strong progressive voice [to] Jefferson City,” where he will focus on key issues ranging from education, agriculture, criminal justice reform, infrastructure, and support of a Pro Union economy.
If he were to win the seat, Ealy plans to approach his duty with a practical mindset.
“I’ve been knocking on doors, I’ve been able to talk with thousands of voters. Two things that always come up in these conversations are, first—’what is it that the people of your district actually want or need?’ and second—‘what can we actually get done with the system that is currently in place?’ I recognized that I had to figure those things out for myself.”
One of Ealy’s key issues is criminal justice reform, where he would work to end the school to prison pipeline and incentivize the hiring of police officers who are actually residents of the city they serve.
He also intends to focus on education, agriculture, infrastructure, and supporting a “Pro Union economy.”
John D Boyd Jr –
Formerly a candidate for this very seat running on the Republican ticket in both 2018 and 2020, John Boyd, Jr. has spent much of the past year recovering from a particularly debilitating case of Covid-19 that very nearly took his life.
This iteration of Boyd’s storied list of regional political efforts is a bit different, however, in that he is running as a Democrat this time around.
“I had had several people telling me that [they] agree with everything [I] stand for, but said that as long as I ran as a Republican, they couldn’t vote for me,” Boyd said. “I am not beholden to any party, I’m beholden to the people in my community.”
Boyd’s long and transformative bout with Covid-19 led him to become an advocate for the vaccine on social media while he was in the heaviest days of his recovery process. The experience gave the longtime supporter of “the unborn, the elderly, and veteran’s rights,” a new perspective on politics.
“I’ve found that most people, regardless of where they’re at on the political spectrum, tend to want many of the same things. We all want food, we want housing, we want a good job, and the ability to feel secure,” Boyd said. “I think we just need to find ways to get there without all this partisanship.”
If he advances out of the primary as a Democrat, Boyd said he is willing to “put aside some of what I believe for the sake of the good of everyone.”
“Now, we have more disabled people that need health care, and it’s clear that we need to get that out,” Boyd offers as one such example.