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U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Tarkio) chairs the House Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill (February 27, 2024 photo from 939 the Eagle's Brian Hauswirth)

(LISTEN): Northern Missouri Congressman Graves focusing on border, economy and rural hospitals

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Tarkio), left, visits with State Rep. Bill Allen (R-Kansas City) at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City on May 1, 2023 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

The dean of Missouri’s congressional delegation will seek his 13th term on Capitol Hill this fall.

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Tarkio), whose massive 39-county district includes Moberly, Mexico and Martinsburg in the 939 the Eagle listening area, filed for re-election in Jefferson City on Tuesday. The Tarkio Republican tells 939 the Eagle that voters in his district are concerned about the economy and about the border.

“I would say the border probably tops everything. People are concerned and they’re upset. And then you hear things you know stories about illegals coming in and killing this person or committing this crime, whatever the case may be. And that’s probably the top priority and the economy being the second one. Interest rates are high, that’s hurting folks when it comes to buying new homes or buying farms or buying farm machinery,” Congressman Graves says.

A Venezuelan man is charged with murder and multiple other felonies for the recent death of 22-year-old college student Laken Riley in Georgia. Fox News reports ICE confirms the suspect entered the U-S illegally in 2022 and had previously been arrested in New York City.

Graves represents 39 counties across north Missouri, from the Mississippi river all the way to the Missouri River in northwest Missouri. His district includes Moberly and Mexico. Congressman Graves says agriculture is the common denominator in the district.

“It’s the most important industry in the district and that’s obviously what I do and the life that I chose. And so it means a lot,” says Graves.

His sprawling district includes numerous rural hospitals like Macon’s Samaritan Hospital, Moberly Regional Medical Center and Hannibal Regional Hospital. Congressman Graves tells 939 the Eagle that rural hospitals in his district are crucial.

“Hospitals always struggle particularly in a rural area because you just don’t have the population base that you have in a lot of the urban areas. But you know those emergency room services, those are the most important aspect, particularly in a rural area, when you have a problem. So we have to do everything we can. Critical access hospitals, that’s a program that we continue to make sure is viable and we continue to make sure that our hospitals are able to take advantage of that,” Congressman Graves says.

Congressman Graves spoke to the Eagle at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City on Tuesday morning, after he filed. He also met with Governor Mike Parson (R), who praises Chairman Graves for helping to secure a federal grant of $93-million in additional funds for I-70.

Congressman Graves faces at least two GOP primary opponents in August: Freddie Griffin of Hamilton and Brandon Kleinmeyer of Kansas City. Two Democrats from Mexico Missouri, Erik Richardson and Rich Gold, have also filed.

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