COLUMBIA — In its third meeting in less than two weeks, the 47th District Republican Committee has settled on a new candidate to run for the seat in Missouri's House of Representatives.
The committee nominated Mitch Richards, the treasurer for Keep Columbia Free, to run for the seat and replace the previous three candidates. He previously ran for Columbia's First Ward City Council seat in 2011 but was defeated by current Councilman Fred Schmidt.
Seven of the committee's 13 members met at the Denny's restaurant, 1100 Knipp St., near the Columbia Mall and unanimously approved Richards as their choice. Boone County Republican Chair Bruce Cornett said only seven members were necessary to nominate a new candidate.
When introducing himself to the committee, Richards described himself as a "definite fiscal conservative" who thinks the government should not interfere with people's lives. He added that if elected to the seat he would "categorically oppose any tax increase" and work against eminent domain abuse.
"I have some libertarian views, but so did the founding fathers," he said after the committee meeting. "The most important thing I can do is stand by what I believe."
Richards also spoke out against Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court decision, which upheld the Affordable Care Act, saying it represented "quite possibly the biggest tax increase in the history of man."
"It is not the place of government to choose our doctors or our medicine," he said.
Committee member Rebecca Miller endorsed Richards, calling him intelligent and tolerant.
"He is following the fair things about the American way of life and preserving our independence," Miller said.
The single 30-year-old represents the fourth nomination Republicans have had to make for the seat, raising questions among some committee members as to why he had not put his name forward earlier.
Richards said he had spoken to Cornett earlier but that he had to discuss the decision with his family.
Columbia attorney Bill Samuels defended the committee's decision in Richards by saying Republicans in the 47th District needed someone to vote for.
"We need a candidate because the people of this district have the right to vote for a Republican," Samuels said.
Richards is replacing Mike Zweifel, who withdrew Thursday morning, and Jennifer Bukowsky, who withdrew last week. Zweifel and Bukowsky had both been tapped to replace the original Republican candidate, Darrel Hansen, who withdrew earlier this month.
"I am certainly going to try and see this all the way through," Richards said.
Richards does not currently live in the 47th District, but he said he would begin looking for a new residence as soon as he was officially on the ballot and move to the district if he wins the seat in the November election.
Normally, candidates must have lived in the districts they wish to represent for at least a year, except during redistricting years. A recent state Supreme Court decision affirmed candidates' rights to run in newly-drawn districts even if they do not currently live in that district.
Richards will face off against the winner of the Aug. 7 Democratic primary between Nancy Copenhaver and John Wright.
The 47th District includes parts of western Boone County, eastern Howard County, northern Cooper County and southern Randolph County.
Richards said he plans to file with the Secretary of State's office on Monday.
"Now I just have to convince the people of the 47th District to vote for me," Richards said.
As for Cornett, he said he was relieved that the committee was able to choose a candidate they could all get behind.
"It's all behind us now," he said. "We're in the clear."
Supervising editor is Jake Kreinberg.