Adams announcement sets up House race rematch with Lichtenegger

Thursday, December 22, 2011
Donna Lichtenegger, left, and Gerald Adams participate in a forum hosted by the Pachyderm Club at Dexter Bar-B-Que in Cape Girardeau, Mo., on Thursday, July 15, 2010, in the leadup to the 2010 primary election. Lichtenegger won a close race. Now Adams is seeking the seat again. (Kristin Eberts)

When Gerald Adams lost the Missouri House race to Donna Lichtenegger in the 2010 Republican primary, it was only by 300 votes -- almost all of which came from Perry County.

Redistricting, however, has cut Perry County from the equation, which Adams says is ample enough reason for a rematch in 2012.

Adams announced his intention Wednesday to run against Lichtenegger in the Aug. 7 Republican primary for the new 146th District. Both are Jackson residents.

"This is a new district with new boundaries and new voters," Adams said. "I believe in letting the people in this area decide who they want in office."

Adams, 59, is a 14-year-member of the Jackson School Board. He has been an employee of Nordenia USA for 14 years as a printer. Before working at Nordenia, he and his family owned and operated G-N-A Dairy.

"My experience in business, farming and education will serve me well in Jefferson City," Adams said.

Adams, a married father of three, is a 1970 graduate of Jackson High School and a University of Missouri-Columbia graduate with a degree in agriculture.

"If he wants to run, he's welcome to run," said Lichtenegger, 60, a retired dental hygienist who was first elected in 2010.

Lichtenegger, who worked on high-profile Republican campaigns for years before she ran, said she plans to make a formal announcement about her political future soon and had no further comment about Adams' announcement. But she also said she was keeping her options open when asked if she was considering running for the 3rd District Senate seat.

The existing 157th District includes Jackson, northern Cape Girardeau County and most of Perry County except Perryville. The new 146th District, which will take effect following November's elections, will basically be Cape Girardeau County, excluding Cape Girardeau. It will include portions previously represented by state Reps. Ellen Brandom and Billy Pat Wright.

Redistricting takes place every 10 years, based on new census data.

Before new boundaries were drawn for both the Missouri House and Senate, Adams said he had little interest in running. But once the new House map was made public, his phone began "ringing off the hook" with people encouraging him to run.

"I carried the city of Jackson and Cape County in the old 157th District and believe they will support me again in the new election," he said. "I lost that last election fair and square. Now, with the new alignment, I feel like our campaign has a great chance."

Adams said he sees Jefferson City increasingly becoming more like Washington, D.C., where special-interest groups and lobbyists push through legislation that doesn't consider the best interests of constituents.

He said the special session was a perfect example of how "Jefferson City is broken." Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent to accomplish little, he said.

Adams said his two biggest priorities, if elected, would be job creation and protecting funding for education.

Lichtenegger was selected as a freshman legislator of the year by House Speaker Steve Tilley. She also was one of three freshman legislators to have a bill she sponsored signed into law -- one that authorizes the Missouri Dental Board to issue a limited teaching license to foreign dentists to meet the demand for dental instructors.

Area Republican leaders predict a close race like last time, when Lichtenegger won with 3,970 votes to Adams' 3,670. But in Cape Girardeau County, Adams garnered 10 more votes with a total of 2,812 to 2,802.

Even campaign contributions from the last election were similar, with Adams raising $25,421 and Lichtenegger reporting $27,459. As of October, Lichtenegger had $7,360 on hand for this campaign, according to state filings. Adams is organizing his campaign committee.

Cape Girardeau County Collector Diane Diebold is also the Republican committee chairwoman for the 157th District. She considers both Republican candidates good friends of hers. Diebold won't endorse either candidate, she said.

"They're both well-known here," Diebold said. "Either one of them would give us good representation in Jefferson City."

According to the Missouri Ethics Commission website, no Democrats have filed for the seat, though the filing deadline isn't until February.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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