Her Republican opponent in the November 6 election, Neosho Mayor Ben Baker, was represented by an empty chair.
Baker explained the no-show in an answer to a question on his campaign's Facebook page:
I did not respond to the event organizers. I wasn't aware that you had to RSVP to receive the questions and agenda. I found out about the questions from another candidate who also declined. Again, I'm not saying that the forum wasn't carried out fairly, just that by several indications that it would not be if I showed up. My instincts could be wrong, but if it was just based on knowing people were coached to ask questions, and the fact that the treasurer of my opponent was on the forum committee was enough for me to decline. And as always my offer to discuss views in person with those who genuinely want to hear is still an open invitation.
While one might question the wisdom of a candidate who hopes to represent everyone in the 160th District showing an unwillingness to enter a venue that he believes might be unfriendly to him, the no show, as well as another no-show at an earlier forum on educational issues, still leave voters lacking knowledge of Baker's stances on those issues.
His campaign website does not add much information:
As a professor and dean of students (Baker is an instructor at Ozark Bible Institute), I understand the importance of a good education. I will fight for excellence in education for all Missouri children.One clue to the direction in which Baker hopes to take Missouri education comes from campaign finance documents filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
The Brush Fires PAC was by no means even close to the biggest contributor to the Baker campaign, yet the PAC played a key role in the media blitz that helped boost Baker to a relatively easy win in a three-way GOP primary race with Raleigh Drue Ritter and David Osburn.
Brush Fires spent $10,042.06 for advertising promoting Baker's candidacy. according to its filing with the Ethics Commission, with all of that spending taking place August 2, providing a last minute lift to the Baker campaign.
An additional $9,605.04 promoted 162nd District Republican candidate Robert Stokes of Carl Junction and $4,000 was spent to promote 159th District Republican candidate Dirk Deeton, both of whom were successful.
It is the source of the Brush Fires PAC's funding should that be of concern to those who support public education in southwest Missouri.
According to Brush Fires' 8-Days-Before-Election filing, on July 26, the PAC received $45,000 from the American Federation for Children, a dark money group created by the family of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that has promoted the use of educational vouchers and privatizing schools.
Missouri Ethics Commission documents show Brush Fires PAC has received only two contributions during the time it has been in existence, $2,500 from Cheyenne International, a tobacco product manufacturer and the $45,000 from the American Federation for Children.