Congressional candidate, Walmart cashier Holbrook challenges the status quo

Monday, October 15, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:36 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Four candidates are vying for a position in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Missouri’s redrawn 4th District. With this year's elections, Boone County became part of the changed district. The incumbent is Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler. Until this year, Boone County was in the 9th District and represented by Republican Rep. Blaine Luektemeyer.

COLUMBIA — Thomas Holbrook thinks he might be the only congressional candidate who works the graveyard shift. A Libertarian from Warrensburg, he might also be the only one who does most of his campaigning during the overnight hours.

Holbrook works as a cashier at Walmart, a job that gives him time to touch base with a lot of potential constituents. The bulk of his campaigning has been done in his hometown, and he has spoken with several Walmart customers who express their support.

They tell him, "'Yeah, I'll vote for you,'" Holbrook said, adding that many of the people he talks with are getting "more and more tired of the status quo."

Holbrook's political stances are anything but the status quo. He said his political ambitions took hold after the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Holbrook worried that the 2001 Patriot Act had people "giving up their rights to be safer."

Consequently, he said, he voted for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004, saying he wanted "anybody but (George W.) Bush."

Holbrook said this year is a time for voters to stop thinking in "left wing or right wing" terms. "Neither party, in general, has the country's best interest at heart," he said.

Holbrook's key concerns include foreign policy and "violations of civil liberties." He believes the U.S. government should focus on diplomacy and trade negotiations, with people providing humanitarian efforts abroad.

Regarding social services, Holbrook said the country needs "to get back to people helping people." Still, he acknowledged that Medicare and Medicaid cannot simply be "ripped out." 

Holbrook said that if he's elected he would not accept the perks of being a congressman, including health care and retirement benefits. He would vote against any pay increases for members of Congress. He supports congressional oversight for the Federal Reserve, citing that agency's ability to effectively set the interest rate the government pays. 

Holbrook also is a supporter of free and open-source software. He said back-and-forth software lawsuits, such as those filed by Apple and Samsung,are a tremendous drain of resources and a damper on technological improvements. Holbrook regularly tests software on his computers and operates what he calls a Unix and overlooked pop culture website called The Nixed Report. 

Holbrook almost died at the age of 6. His digestive system became clogged, "then everything else started going haywire," he said, adding, "Children's Mercy Hospital saved my life."

He said experience brought to him "an appreciation of life and respect for the freedoms of all citizens," according to his campaign website. 

He graduated from Leeton R-X High School before enrolling at Warrensburg Area Technical School. He earned a technology information management certification in 2003. He then attended the University of Central Missouri (formerly Central Missouri State University), earning a bachelor of science degree in history with a minor in religious studies.

Holbrook isn't entirely new to politics. He made a run for Congress in the previous 4th District in 2010 but lost the Libertarian nomination by four votes.

During the University of Central Missouri Homecoming parade on Oct. 13, Holbrook saw some spectators turning down pamphlets from a Libertarian Party volunteer. When he talked with the same people, they accepted the pamphlets. He heard the reply, "You've got my vote."

"It helps when they know who I am."

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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