Tommy Sowers and his dog, Chuck

“Boots on the Ground,” a 28-day drive to hear the challenges in the 8th District and listen to ideas from citizens, brought a Democratic candidate for Congress to Texas County over the weekend.

Tommy Sowers of Rolla started Jan. 20 in Washington County and ended Wednesday in Phelps County. “It’s a deliberate approach to learn more about the challenges of the district and listen to residents,” said Sowers.

Sowers started Sunday at Duncan Smith’s dairy operation in west Texas County, met with citizens for breakfast at Hayes Café in Houston, attended church at Ozark Baptist, toured the Texas County Justice Center and Texas County Jail before meeting with residents later at the Houston Rural Fire Association meeting room.

He is spending a day and night in each of the district’s 28 counties.

Sowers was raised in Rolla, where his grandfather founded that community’s newspaper in 1942. He attended Duke on a ROTC scholarship, earned a master’s degree in public policy from the London School of Economics and is completing his doctorate in government. He spent 11 years in military active duty, taught at West Point and most recently was an instructor of American government at Rolla’s Missouri University of Science and Technology.

In announcing the tour earlier, Sowers said it was more than passing through the county for a quick stop and photo opportunity.

“In the military I learned firsthand that nothing replaces boots on the ground experience,” Sowers said. “This will not be a tour — tours are for tourists and typical politicians who merely want to come in, take a few pictures, then leave. ‘Boots on the Ground’ is about working, living and listening to hardworking people in each and every county. ‘Boots on the Ground’ will give me the chance to do what most of us hope other politicians would-close their mouths, and open their ears and eyes.”

The 8th Congressional District covers south-central and southeastern Missouri counties. The incumbent is Republican Jo Ann Emerson, who replaced her husband in 1996 after his death.


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