Before declaring victory in the race for the Republican nomination in the 7th District race for U.S. House, Eric Burlison shares a hug with his wife, Angie. (Photo by Jym WIlson)

Eric Burlison stood in front of a crowd of supporters at the Vineyard Market in Ozark a few minutes before 10 p.m. Aug. 2. He declared himself the victor and the Republican nominee to represent southwest Missouri in Congress.

Riding name recognition and credentials as a conservative state Senator, Burlison cruised to a convincing victory over former state Sen. Jay Wasson, with pastor Alex Bryant making a strong showing for third, and state Sen. Mike Moon finishing fourth.

Burlison will face Democrat Kristen Radaker-Sheafer — who bested two opponents Tuesday — in the Nov. 8 election, and will be heavily favored to win in a district that has not elected a Democrat in 62 years.

“Just an overwhelming sense of humbleness,” Burlison said, describing how he felt after his victory declaration. “Just really an honor, especially when I look at the numbers and I see that we won every county. It’s really, really amazing and I can’t thank everyone who voted for me enough.” 

Burlison reiterated what he campaigned for, regarding how he would stick to his conservative principles if elected to Congress and that his aim would not change in the general election.

“At the end of the day, I will work hard to serve everyone in the district and we’ll work hard to reflect the values that we hold dear in Southwest Missouri of hard work, of loving God, loving your neighbor, loving your country,” Burlison said. “Those are the values I was raised with and those are the values I’ll work hard to put forward.”

Burlison, a state senator for Missouri’s 20th District and former representative for the 133rd House District for the eight-year maximum, has spent much of his career in information technology, from building websites to pay his way through college and eventually becoming an Oracle consultant for CoxHealth. Additionally, Burlison’s MBA focused on economics and finance, and he currently works as a private investment adviser. 

Radaker-Sheafer, a former graphic designer and Joplin-based baker, campaigned for fostering bipartisanship, avoiding omnibus bills, and creating incentives and financial relief for small businesses.

According to unofficial results, here were the top votegetters in the GOP primary among eight candidates:

VotesPct.
Eric Burlison39,42238.2%
Jay Wasson23,23422.5%
Alex Bryant18,51217.9%
Mike Moon8,9528.7%
All other candidates13,14012.7%

For the Democrats, unofficial results showed Radaker-Sheafer had 13,661 votes (63%) compared to 5,487 for John Woodman and 2,430 for Bryce Lockwood.

The primary split the district’s Republicans. The field included eight candidates; some with political experience, some without, but all with different brands of conservatism, stances on policies and definitions of “America First.” 

Six-term incumbent Billy Long opted to not run for reelection amid his bid for the U.S. Senate Republican nomination to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt.  Republicans have held southwest Missouri’s congressional district for 62 years, and polling indicates that trend will continue. However, the Democratic primary victor and lone Libertarian will seek to end the GOP’s grip on the 7th Congressional District.

Burlison, who served eight years in Missouri’s House of Representatives and the past four years in the state Senate, campaigned on his voting record, a conservative platform, and endorsements from the likes of the Conservative PAC and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. In a campaign event in Springfield put on by the Truth and Courage PAC, Cruz called Burlison a “warrior.” 

Burlison pledged to further protect the Second Amendment, bring back some Trump-era policies, improve border security and slash taxes, among other objectives.

Eric Burlison, candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. House in the 7th District, mingles with supporters at an election night party Aug. 2, 2022, at the Vineyard Market in Ozark. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Prior to terming out in both Missouri’s House and Senate, Wasson served as a council member and mayor for the city of Nixa. While not elected offices, he also spent time on Nixa’s Planning and Zoning, Industrial and Park Boards. 

Wasson largely campaigned on his voting record and an America First platform. He termed out of both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly, with eight years apiece in Missouri’s House from 2002 to 2010 and the state Senate from 2011 to 2019.

Wasson pledged to pursue a balanced federal budget, to build a wall and secure the southern border, and to achieve energy independence, among other objectives.

Bryant benefited from a late, heavy rotation of television ads, and his ties to the Assemblies of God. He is a minister, podcaster and author, who touts faith and a rags-to-riches story as keys to his foundation.

Moon largely campaigned on his voting record and a conservative platform. After eight years in Missouri’s House from 2013 to 2020, he has served two years in the state Senate. He said he would seek to further protect Donald Trump’s legacy and re-implement his America First foreign policy, defund Planned Parenthood, and end the teaching of Critical Race Theory, among other objectives.

Also Tuesday, Kevin Craig claimed the Libertarian nomination as the sole candidate. He has been his party’s nominee in several elections, promotes himself as a Christian with aims to abolish the IRS and privatize the Post Office, among other objectives.

Craig will join Burlison and Radaker-Sheafer on the ballot Nov. 8, as Republicans seek to retake the U.S. House for the first time since Democrats took a majority in the 2018 midterms.

Jack McGee

Jack McGee is a general assignment reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen, with a focus on regional politics. McGee most recently worked at Carbon Trace Productions, a documentary film company, as a producer. He’s a Missouri State University graduate and former reporter at student-led newspaper The Standard. More by Jack McGee