As it usually does, August introduced a hectic schedule to Dr. Gena Ross as she prepared to teach fall classes at Kansas City Kansas Community College. COVID-19 complicated matters further, Ross having spent time in the hospital earlier this year with the virus.
This year, too, found her running for Congress.
The Platte City resident won the Democratic nomination for the Missouri 6th District U.S. House seat one month ago, and the time has been spent balancing her work life with that of a campaigner.
A past strategy of Democratic challengers in this race has been to almost exclusively focus attention on the biggest counties in the sprawling district. In the last presidential election year, Jackson, Clay, Platte and Buchanan counties accounted for 201,522 of the 350,444 votes cast in the 6th District race.
But Ross wants no part of that idea.
“No county left behind,” she told News_Press NOW this week. “I’m trying to have people in place in every county that they can represent the campaign to the best of their ability during a pandemic time.”
So, along with beginning a teaching load at the community college — she is working virtually at this time — Ross has been ordering yard signs, making contacts throughout the district’s 36 counties and ensuring the message of her campaign reflects her personal values.
“I have to be extremely careful, because all advice is not good advice,” she said. “I solely just care about people.”
Adopting a campaign slogan of “We’re Better Together,” Ross has been holding online meetings (like a rural town hall Wednesday night), reaching out through email and encouraging word-of-mouth.
Her options in motivating voters have been limited because of money. Though filing a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission in January, no financial disclosures have been submitted from her campaign to the FEC, with the next quarterly deadline on Oct. 15.
The incumbent that Ross hopes to unseat, Republican Congressman Sam Graves, showed in his last FEC report $1.46 million in total receipts for this election cycle and almost $783,000 cash-on-hand through the end of June.
Still, the Democrat believes her platform — protecting and expanding health care, saving small businesses, increasing the federal minimum wage, improving infrastructure — can resonate despite the lack of resources.
“Some people may feel like only 1% is being represented at this present time. Well then, I want to represent the 99% that feel left out. And the 1%, if they would allow me that opportunity,” she said. “I just want to represent all people.”
The general election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3.