Graves (copy)

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, speaks at a meeting with school superintendents earlier this year.

Missouri’s 6th Congressional District extends from the Missouri to the Mississippi rivers and covers more square miles than some U.S. states. Its citizens can’t be pigeonholed as nothing but a bunch of farmers. There are children and retirees, factory workers and teachers, small business owners and employees of global corporations.

And, yes, farmers who feed the nation and provide a backbone for the local economy. Agriculture is still big business and a way of life in Northwest Missouri.

These are the constituents that Sam Graves has represented since voters first sent him to Congress two decades ago. In that time, Graves has provided a common-sense voice that’s about as predictable as the sight of corn that’s knee high on the Fourth of July. We believe it’s a voice that should be returned to Washington, D.C.

Graves, a Republican and a farmer from Tarkio, seeks re-election in the Nov. 3 general election. He faces Dr. Gena Ross, a Platte City resident who teaches at a Kansas City-area community college and emerged from a crowded Democratic primary field. The ballot also includes Jim Higgins, a Libertarian candidate.

It’s critical to avoid viewing Graves, or any candidate for that matter, solely through the prism of partisan politics. The incumbent’s voting record has proved reliably conservative on fiscal discipline, taxes, gun rights and other matters that resonate in a district of rolling fields and small towns.

But there’s also a practicality and sensibility to Graves that’s admirable, a commitment to smart government and good government — as opposed to bloated and ineffectual government.

He has spoken harshly of the ridiculous, Obama-era Waters of the United States regulations and played a consequential role in finding a replacement that was less burdensome to farmers and property owners. He provides consistent advocacy for agricultural and navigation interests along the Missouri River. As the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he influences funding and legislation that impacts highways, bridges and other modes of transport that are vital to our nation and region.

This year, Graves went against the wishes of the Trump administration and voted with Democrats to support $25 billion in emergency funding for the U.S. Postal Service. He knew it was important for the elderly and small-town residents in his district. He is not interested in undercutting public education with excessive support for charter schools.

If you watch only the campaign ads, you’re likely to see a caricature of a politician. Graves is no exception. But if you look at his record, it becomes clear this representative of Northwest Missouri should be returned to Congress.