At a Glance
- Career History: Missouri state Senate (1994-2000); Missouri House of Representatives (1992-1994)
- Birthday: Nov. 7, 1963
- Hometown: Tarkio, Mo.
- Alma Mater: University of Missouri, B.S., 1986
- Spouse: Leslie
- Religion: Baptist
- Committees: Chairman, House Small Business Committee (since January 2011); Agriculture; Transportation and Infrastructure
- DC Office: 1415 Longworth House Office BuildingWashington, DC 20515(202) 225-7041
- State/District Office: Liberty, (816) 792-3976; St. Joseph, (816) 233-9818
- Web site
Path to Power
Born in 1963, Graves grew up on his family's farm in the small town of Tarkio in the northwest corner of Missouri. He attended public schools and then the University of Missouri, where he majored in plant science before returning to the farm in Tarkio after his graduation in 1986. Though his father was active in local politics as a member of the school board, Graves has said he didn't aspire to go into politics. But he told the Kansas City Star in 2008 that he was driven to run for office by his anger over tax increases and government spending.
Graves won his first campaign in 1992, defeating a Democratic incumbent for a seat in the Missouri state House. He served a single term before winning a seat in the state Senate in 1994.
With few exceptions, Graves is known as a loyal Republican vote with conservative leanings. He has voted with his party 98.2% of the time in the 111th Congress .
He is ardently opposed to abortion rights, against same-sex marriage and supportive of the death penalty. Graves supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite criticism from Democratic opponents in his recent campaigns. On energy, he has joined many Republicans in pushing for expanded domestic oil drilling as a way of decreasing the nation's dependence on foreign energy sources. He also strongly opposes a cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions; he voted against the House cap-and-trade bill in June 2009, calling it a "national energy tax" that would "devastate rural America."
Graves won his seat in the House thanks to hefty support from the Republican leadership at the time, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas).
His ties to the leadership were so close that his 2000 opponents suggested he would be beholden to the GOP leadership if elected. Graves is also close with fellow Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt (R), who as a former House GOP whip tapped Graves for a spot on the leadership team and helped him rise up the ranks of the Small Business Committee.