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While he’s still considering a bid for Missouri’s 4th congressional district, Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden said it was important for the district to see someone ready to take the lead.

“You need somebody who can definitively say ‘I was in the room when the Heartbeat Bill — the best pro-life bill in the country — got negotiated and passed; I was in the room when the Second Amendment Preservation Act got negotiated and passed; I was in the room when any number of pro-agriculture bills that have helped our family farmers tremendously got passed,'” Rowden said. “Regardless of who gets in the race, nobody else is going to be able to say that other than me.”

“If we do, I think we’ll have the money to win, and I think we have the message and the story to win,” he continued.

Rowden would face off with state Rep. Sara Walsh, farmer Kalena Bruce, and veterans Ryan Johnson and Taylor Burkes if he were to join the race.

Rowden appeared on Sunday’s episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” to discuss COVID-19, the attacks in Afghanistan, and the use of critical race theory (CRT) in Missouri schools.

“My view of the world is you can snap a finger and say you’re going to ban CRT, and it’s not really going to change anything,” Rowden said. “If you want to figure out how to make sure that your kids aren’t being exposed to biased left-leaning activist teachers, you have to have as much school choice as humanly possible in the state of Missouri. That’s how you give parents and kids the chance to say, ‘Hey, we don’t like what’s happening here, and we’re going to take our money, we’re going to take our kids, and we’re going to go somewhere else.'”

This week’s panel included state Rep. Rudy Veit; James Harris, principal at the J Harris Company; Jack Cardetti, president of Tightline Public Affairs; and Jessica Piper, candidate for HD 1. The group discussed COVID-19 and mask mandates, with Piper, an educator, supporting schools’ ability to enact them.

“When it comes to schools, we mandate a lot of things for students,” Piper said. “When we talk about mask mandates, I think it’s just something that goes along with people keeping kids safe and keeping the learning going, and a mask can do that, and I know that for a fact because I taught last year face-to-face the entire year.”

Despite a legal challenge to school mask ordinances from his side of the aisle, Veit argued the issue should be left up to individual districts based on unique populations and case rates.

“In-school learning is still a high priority, and so for us to sit here and make some rule that affects every district in the state — every district is different,” Veit said. “They can address it better than anybody sitting up here at the Capitol can tell them how to run their district. … I don’t believe that we can tell local school districts how to run their school district better than they can.”

Watch the full episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” below, or listen to the podcast version here.

Cameron Gerber studied journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, he earned an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College. Cameron is a native of Eldon, Missouri.

Contact Cameron at cameron@themissouritimes.com.

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