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Jackson County legislator announces Republican run for Rep. Cleaver’s seat in Congress

Sean Smith, a Jackson County legislator, announced Monday that he will challenge Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat, for his seat in Congress.

Smith, who chairs the committee overseeing Jackson County’s 911 operations, is the first Republican to announce a bid against Cleaver in 2024. He twice ran failed bids for Missouri House of Representatives before winning his seat on the Jackson County Legislature in 2022.

“The people of Missouri deserve leaders who will manage their tax dollars as they would their own wallets,” Smith said in a press release announcing his campaign. “I am excited to demonstrate fiscal responsibility within my own campaign finances, keeping future campaign contributions transparent.”

Smith said he hopes to address tax burdens and regulatory policies he says hurt entrepreneurs and household finances.

Cleaver has represented Kansas City since 2005 and is seeking his 11th term in Congress. He was among the first sitting representatives to endorse President Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020 and served two terms as mayor of the city between 1991 and 1999.

Missouri’s 5th Congressional District votes heavily Democratic — Cleaver won his election in 2022 by 24.6 percentage points. He has $923,945 in his campaign account heading into the election.

This weekend, Cleaver will host House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, and Rep. Pete Aguilar, a California Democrat who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, at Gates Bar-B-Q.