State representative shunned by Democrats launches campaign for Missouri governor

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State Rep. Sarah Unsicker, D-Shrewsbury, speaks on June 29, 2021, during a House Budget Committee hearing. | Tim Bommel/Missouri House Communications

A Democratic state representative booted from her party’s caucus because of her association with a man described as a Holocaust denier and another called a conspiracy theorist is running for governor.

State Rep. Sarah Unsicker of Shrewsbury went to Washington, D.C., and announced her bid for Missouri’s highest office in front of the U.S. Capitol

“What is happening in Missouri is a global emergency,” Unsicker said in a news release. “There is no justice in our courts. Our politicians do not govern. Families are being torn apart. People are still forced into slave labor. Our elections are under attack from enemies foreign and domestic. And the same spirit that would have ripped this country asunder in 1861 still threatens us today.”

Her announcement didn’t specify that she would run as a Democrat, but she has not denounced her ties to the party. Unsicker would join House Majority Leader Crystal Quade and Springfield businessman Mike Hamra in the Democratic primary for governor. On the Republican side, three candidates are running full-scale campaigns for the GOP nomination – Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and state Sen. Bill Eigel.

Unsicker was stripped of her committee assignments and expelled from the House Democratic caucus in December. She came under fire from fellow Democrats, including Quade, after posting photos of herself with Charles Johnson and Eric Garland on social media.

Johnson is “a Holocaust denier and alt-right troll,” according to the Anti-Defamation League

Garland has posted numerous threads detailing conspiracy theories, including an  unsubstantiated accusation in December that Elad Gross, a Democratic candidate for Missouri Attorney General, and his mother are unregistered agents for Israel. Garland is listed on Unsiker’s latest press release as campaign manager for her bid for governor.

Johnson has also leveled similar accusations against Will Scharf, a Republican candidate for attorney general who, like Gross, is Jewish.

At the time of the allegations, Unsicker was running against Gross in the Democratic attorney general primary. She forwarded Garland’s accusations to the Missouri secretary of state’s office , called for Gross to quit the race and ended her campaign for attorney general.

“Because of the serious nature of this complaint, and the considerable conflict of interest these allegations present with my office, I will not be running against Elad Gross in the Democratic primary for Missouri Attorney General,” Unsicker said in a video posted to social media.

On Dec. 18, Ashcroft issued a statement that said the complaint did not allege any violations of Missouri election law and he had no authority to investigate it.

Unsicker was removed from the caucus three days later.

“The House Democratic Caucus is dedicated to the values of inclusiveness, tolerance and respect,” House Democratic leaders said in a statement issued after her expulsion. “When a member fails to uphold those standards, the caucus has a duty to act. Rep. Unsicker is free to choose her associations, but the caucus enjoys that same freedom.”

Filing for offices on the Aug. 6 primary ballot opens on Feb. 27.

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