GOP candidates for Missouri House tout education, agriculture

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 | 10:04 p.m. CDT; updated 4:44 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 22, 2014

*CORRECTION: State Rep. Caleb Rowden will face Tom Pauley in the general election. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated this information. 

COLUMBIA — In a public forum Tuesday, Republican candidates for the Missouri House of Representatives blasted Common Core State Standards and provided their vision for Columbia and Missouri.

State Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia; Chuck Basye; and Betsy Phillips gathered to introduce themselves to and answer questions from residents Tuesday. The forum was hosted by the Boone County Pachyderm Club at the Rock Bridge Hy-Vee. 

For Basye and Phillips, it was one of the first steps toward securing the Republican nomination for the 47th District of Missouri. Rowden, who is finishing his first term as a representative in the 44th District, is running unopposed in the primary.*

Phillips, who was the president of the Pachyderm Club before deciding to run, said that her primary interest in running was promoting individual freedom but that education and agriculture were also important.

"This is the time to stand up for freedom," she said in her opening statement. "Whether it's freedom of speech, freedom of religion or the right to congregate, we need to get back to those. The economy and all those things are important, but we need to get back to those (rights)."

Phillips also said that there were some government overreaches in education and that school districts did not have control over schools.

"I am completely against Common Core," she said. "The thing that really bothers me is that they can ask a child about his or her family. Who gets that information — the federal government. It's not right."

Basye, a former Marine and a small-business owner in Boone County, described himself as pro-life and pro-Second Amendment. He said there were three things he would focus on as a representative: jobs, education and agriculture.

"We need to keep taxes low and cut out burdensome regulations being thrown at us left and right by the state and federal governments," Basye said. He also said that education was a "silver bullet" and that every child should have access to a quality education. He also said he was "100 percent" against Common Core State Standards.

As a representative in the Missouri legislature, he said, he would do his best to preserve property rights and protect Missouri's agricultural heritage.

Rowden said his goal was to improve the Republican Party's message.

"Our principles are right. We are on the right side of things most if not all the time, but we have a messaging problem," he said. "We need to communicate that to folks. We have the right policies, and part of my initiative is to communicate those things."

Although each candidate said they supported "right to work" legislation, Rowden said he thought sending it to a public vote was the wrong way to go about it.

"If we bring up 'right to work' and it fails, we can't touch it for 20 to 30 years," he said. "What we need to do is we need to put a Republican in the governor's seat."

Basye and Phillips will face each other in the Aug. 5 primary, and the winner will run against incumbent John Wright, D-Rocheport, in the general election Nov. 4. Rowden will face Democrat Tom Pauley of Hallsville in the general election.* 

Supervising editor is Edward Hart.

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