47th District GOP nominate Mitch Richards to Missouri House seat

Thursday, June 28, 2012 | 9:45 p.m. CDT

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.

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Steve Spellman June 29, 2012 | 9:13 a.m.

Wow. This race might now eclipse the Stephen Webber vs. Fred Berry race as the greatest local juxtaposition of ideologies.

To address why Mitch didn't put in earlier: the GOP was left hanging after the original candidate dropped out, so they were scrambling to find someone of very short notice. Regardless of ideology, though, I'd say they have the most dynamic candidate around now.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble June 29, 2012 | 11:19 a.m.

Well he's certainly up to speed on the very latest lockstep Republican message points and buzzwords. He's showing that he can read the script.

Unfortunately, the intelligence of these statements is lacking. Characterizing a health care plan that confirms the control of private health-care companies as "government choosing our doctors" is pretty sorry propaganda. I'm assuming that Richards is smarter than this, but you wouldn't know it from these canned statements.

In contrast to what he claims is most important, I'd suggest that what's most important to him should be to fairly represent the widest spectrum of his potential constituents' interests as possible and work to build consensus and compromise to advance the general welfare. I know that's not in fashion these winner-takes-all days, though.

(Report Comment)
frank christian June 29, 2012 | 11:42 a.m.

"...and work to build consensus and compromise to advance the general welfare."

Is that what we got from the Democrat controlled government that gave us "a health care plan that confirms the control of private health-care companies"? I don't think so!

(Report Comment)
John Schultz June 29, 2012 | 12:36 p.m.

I'm thinking the insurance companies are OK with government control of them when the government is also forcing millions of people into their insurance plan. Whom is controlling whom?

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance June 29, 2012 | 1:40 p.m.

This will ensure a democratic victory in November.

(Report Comment)
frank christian June 29, 2012 | 2:12 p.m.

From Forbes, "So, why would AHIP (American Health Insurers lobby) try to secretly destroy a legislative scheme that would drive millions of new customers into their arms thanks to the mandated insurance provisions?

According to Neera Tanden, who served as the senior advisor for health reform at the Department of Health and Human Services and was a member of the Obama White House health reform team, it was all about the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR)—the provision of the ACA that not only requires the health insurance companies to spend 80 percent of your premium dollars on actual health care expenditures, but further requires that they refund to their customers any amounts they fail to spend as required by the MLR."

We were told this before the bill passed.

(Report Comment)

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