It was a shock to almost everyone; 2nd District State Rep. Zachary Wyatt of Novinger announced Tuesday that he's withdrawing from the race for re-election.
Rep. Wyatt told us on the phone Wednesday that his decision to withdraw from the race comes after two weeks of contemplation; two weeks ago he said he received an acceptance letter from the University of Hawaii to study Marine Biology. Wyatt said studying Marine Biology is a lifelong dream and something that he has worked very hard for while serving in the military for seven years. Wyatt said if he waited any longer, he'd lose out on the chance to use the GI bill to receive a free college education.
"The tipping point was pretty much that I was seven years in the military and I didn't want to lose such a prized thing that I got from the military which is a free education," Rep. Wyatt said.
Wyatt said he applied to the University of Hawaii back in January of 2012 and kept it a secret from everyone until now. He said he filed for re-election before he received his acceptance letter. After he receives his Bachelor's degree, Wyatt plans on applying to law school and studying environmental law. He said he will start school in August but will finish his term, which ends Dec. 31, 2012.
"In my mind, I think that there's a lot of people out there that want to be a career politicians and I'm not a career politician by no means," Rep. Wyatt said. "I wanted to come down and serve the people in my district, and I'm going to continue to serve them until the end of the year. I can tell you that I've been quite successful getting a lot of priorities accomplished for my district."
Wyatt said he will work with the Republican Party to get another conservative elected in the 3rd District to serve in the House for the next term. We learned Wednesday that that conservative maybe Nate Walker. He said he is seriously considering running for the open seat.
"The Republican Party is not necessarily hurt but they need to identify a strong candidate," said Walker. "I hope that I am that candidate and if so, I will move forward and run a race built on the issues. I think that we need a clear, strong, fresh voice for this district and I've had experience being a legislator before and it would be a good contest I think between two established politicians."
Walker is currently running for the 1st District Adair County Commissioner seat. If he decides to run for the 3rd District State House seat, he will have to withdraw from the other race.
Wyatt's current challenger, Democrat Rebecca McClanahan said she won't let Wyatt's decision distract her from running an issue-driven campaign.
"Of course, I started thinking about the potential implications of that but when I got into this race, it wasn't because of who was representing us necessarily," said Rebecca McClanahan, (D) - 3rd District State Representative candidate.
"I got in because I'm offering myself as an alternative. I served before in the House of Representatives and I will focus on my former record and what the people of North Missouri are concerned about. So, I'm in the race regardless if there's an opponent or not or who the opponent is."
McClanahan was defeated by Rep. Wyatt in the 2010 general election campaign for the 2nd District State House seat.
If Nate Walker does win, he will be running against McClanahan, his neighbor.
According to the Missouri Secretary of State's Office, Rep. Wyatt has not officially withdrawn from the race. When he does, filing for the new 3rd District State Representative will re-open for five business days, allowing anyone that is qualified to file to run for the open seat.