COLUMBIA — Dressed in a clean blue shirt and khaki pants, Chris Dwyer looked a bit out of place in a pasture feeding sheep from a feed trough. But, running for state Senate while a full-time stay-at-home dad and a part-time farmer and business man has turned him into a multi-tasker.
Dwyer maintains his usual routine: getting his children ready for school every morning, feeding the animals then working two days a week at McDonald's. But he's also in a three-way contest for the 19th District seat in the Missouri Senate. What are his chances?
PERSONAL: 41. He is married to Maxine Dwyer. They have two children.
PARTY AFFILIATION: Libertarian
OCCUPATION: Stay-at-home father, landlord, animal farmer and co-owner of Lazy Acres Farm, LLC, a company that buys tax liens.
EDUCATION: Data processing classes at North County Tech School.
BACKGROUND: Dwyer used to own a pest-control business and served in the Air Force for four years, working in entomology and water purification.
"Well, since there are three of us," he said, " 33 1/3 percent."
Dwyer is running as the Libertarian Party candidate for the Senate district that represents Boone and Randolph counties. He said he brings a business owner's perspective on the economy that gives him an edge over his opponents.
Born outside St. Louis, Dwyer is one of five children. His father held a series of truck driving jobs that paid for their house but left the family with little room for luxuries. He started working at a young age, cutting grass for a company then working at McDonald's in high school and as a store manager of a full-service Sinclair station. He went to North County Technical School to learn data processing after high school. But in 1991, he decided things weren't progressing the way he would like, so he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.
"I didn't see a future in what I was doing so I wanted to learn a technical skill for when I was a citizen," Dwyer said.
Dwyer worked in entomology and pest control and as a water purification specialist while in the Air Force. But he was also involved in a severe accident during his service at a North Dakota base. On December 7, 1993, the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, he and another airman were making their way down an icy road in a pickup when their vehicle slid over black ice and swung into the path of an oncoming train. The passenger was killed instantly; Dwyer suffered injuries to his back and foot.
"Every time you come across railroad tracks that thought came into my mind," Dwyer said. "When I think about it, it was just a matter of seconds was all it was, and we would have been over the tracks. But I'm a believer in fate and if it was meant to be, I guess it was meant to be."
Dwyer met his wife, Maxine, in 1992 while working part-time at a McDonald's where she worked. After his military service, Dwyer started a successful pest-control business, which he later sold so he could take care of their two children, Taylor and Brian, while Maxine managed three McDonald's restaurants. Dwyer's sister, Joanne Farrah, said Dwyer is dedicated to his children.
"He is a really fantastic father," Farrah said. "He's great with his kids. He has fun with them."
Farrah said that in high school, she remembers Dwyer was always busy holding down a couple jobs while keeping up with his studies.
Last year, Dwyer and his siblings went into business purchasing properties with tax liens in Missouri. Farrah said Dwyer's knowledge of Boone County and confident business strategies are an asset to the company.
"He believes in himself, and believes in the decisions he makes with our company," Farrah said.
Dwyer's said his belief that government is wasteful prompted him to seek public office. If elected, he said, he he would work to get rid of the state income tax and replace it with a sales tax. With no income tax, businesses would be encouraged to come to Missouri, he said.
"Once you move to that tax system, you basically take out the hidden tax so the consumer can see it," Dwyer said. He said business owners pass income tax onto consumers through their pricing.
"You're paying the tax now whether you see it or not," he said.
Dwyer acknowledged that election to the Senate also would require him to adjust his role as the primary caretaker in his family. "I don't know what all that job entails," he said of the time commitment senators have to make.
Dwyer's political stances reflect most Libertarian views. He does not, however, believe in legalizing all drugs, and he thinks children should be covered under insurance plans.
"I'm concerned about welfare and well-being and development of children because they are at the mercy of their parents," Dwyer said. "We shouldn't punish a kid because of what his parents are."
Dwyer is a believer in personal responsibility, so he believes people who suffer from health conditions that are the result of lifestyle choices should not be insured.
"I'm saying pre-existing conditions as far as your older generations saying, I'm overweight and now I have diabetes, or I smoked and now I have lung cancer, those are choices that you've made," Dwyer said.
You won't see any large signs with Dwyer's name on them by the side of the highway, and you won't see his face on any television commercials. But he hopes his ideas penetrate the campaign discussion. He said he doesn't feel overlooked, but he was disappointed that organizations such as the Missouri Farm Bureau did not at least consider endorsing him.
"I was surprised that they didn't look at the only farmer who is running," he said.
Dwyer also was not invited to a candidate forum hosted by the Associated Students of the University of Missouri.
Maxine Dwyer is very supportive of her husband, but she hasn't been a big contributor to the campaign.
"She doesn't like to be involved in my political career," Dwyer said, adding that she had little to say when he told her of his plans to run for the office.
"I can tell you what my boss said," Dwyer said. "He said: 'You're running as a Libertarian! You're not going to get any votes.' I said that with my wife I expect to get at least two.
"If I wind up with only one, I know something happened."