Running Against the Odds

Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District was over 60% Democrat and the media had painted the race as “unwinnable” for a Republican.  But that didn’t stop one dedicated conservative from running against the odds.

Unlike many who run for public office, Jacob Turk didn’t plan to run.  He graduated from the University of Missouri – Kansas City with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and is a Marine Corps veteran, business owner, volunteer, proud father, and grandfather.

“Honestly, if I had not felt the Lord calling me distinctly to run for this office, I can’t imagine deciding to do it on my own.  It was a step of faith to run.”

Jacob Turk ran for U.S. Congress in Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District in 2012 and again in 2014.

“We are not wealthy nor do we have powerful political connections,” Jacob said.  “One of the biggest obstacles was the lack of confidence of those who live in the district…the skepticism made it difficult to raise the funds necessary for a victory.”

In 2012 and 2014, Jacob Turk won the primary, but lost to the incumbent Emanuel Cleaver.

“We didn’t lose the war; we just didn’t win a particular battle,” Jacob said.

In the 2014 general election, Jacob was projected to lose by thirty points.  He only lost to Cleaver by 6.6%.

“Our campaign forced the Democrats to spend almost a million dollars in precious resources they could not spend on senatorial races in 2014.”

The campaign also managed to bring in new volunteers and new donors.

“Over 70% of our volunteers had never volunteered time in a political campaign before our race,” Jacob said.  “We heard the same from a majority of our financial donors, as well.”

Both Jacob and his wife Donna are Leadership Institute (LI) graduates.  They have attended several LI trainings including the Campaign Management School, Television Workshop, Field Representative Training, New Media Workshop, and Youth Leadership School.

“If you want to be a serious player in the conservative movement, we recommend that you take all the LI courses you can, both in DC and in your area,” Jacob said.  “We can take hope that if we are able to motivate our voters to turn out every election, we can win the tough races.”

Jacob credits the Field Representative Training for “the robust cadre of college and home school students that contributed thousands of volunteer hours to [his campaign] effort.”

When asked to describe the Leadership Institute, Jacob said “The staff and presenters are enthusiastic about winning the ideological battle in America, and their will to win this war is infectious.”

Jacob and his wife, Donna, reside in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.  They work tirelessly to change their local government.

Please join us in congratulating Jacob Turk for receiving LI’s Conservative Leader Award, and in thanking him for his tireless effort to promote conservative principles.

To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Carol Wehe, at

The Leadership Institute offers over 40 types of training programs, working with more than 1,568 conservative campus groups, and helping employers connect with conservative jobseekers.  Since the Institute’s 1979 founding, LI has trained more than 161,271 conservative activists, students, and leaders.  Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders.  For more information, please visit: