State and county candidates made a last-minute push for support from party leaders and voters during a candidate forum held on Friday, July 22, at Golden Corral in Branson.
The forum was part of the Taney County Republican’s bi-weekly meetings.
The session opened with comments from former Governor and U.S. Senate candidate Eric Greitens, who stopped at the event while on a weekend vacation with his sons.
“I wanted to stop by and say how grateful I am you as patriots are standing up at a time like this,” Greitens said. “Winston Churchill once said ‘show me someone with courage, and I’ll show you someone who has enemies.’ If you stand up for anything in your life, you’ll have enemies. And one thing that we know, is that we’re in a battle for the soul of this country. And I will say something that most other politicians aren’t willing to say: the left is actively trying to destroy the United States of America and we have to fight them.”
Greitens said “the left” is “working down a checklist for how you destroy nation-states, city-states, empires.”
He said their plan calls for “debasing currency,” “opening borders,” “creating violence at home,” and then “cause internal division.”
Greitens said the country is in crisis “not only because of the left’s crazy ideas” but because of “RINOs who continue to stab the American people in the back.” He said that “RINOs in state legislatures” did not “have the President’s back” on election integrity.
Several candidates running to replace Rep. Billy Long in the state’s 7th Congressional District spoke to the group about their platforms and positions.
Jay Wasson said he’s lived and ran a business through the Carter administration and he’s seen “things that I’m afraid are coming at us today.”
“Those were caused by bad policy decisions coming out of Washington, D.C.,” Wasson said. “Just like the things that are happening to us today are caused by bad policy decisions out of Washington, D.C.”
Wasson pushed back at ads and online accusations of his being a RINO because he supported Mitt Romney for President.
“In 2012, in August, I wrote a check for [Romney] when he was the Republican nominee against Obama,” Wasson said. “Folks, I would have supported Mickey Mouse if he were running against Obama. That’s how [my opponents] try to stretch the truth, and that’s what they’re trying to do.”
He said he will do whatever it takes to “get us back to what we considered normal a few years ago.”
Eric Burlison said he would not be like most politicians who get sent to Washington.
“When I started out helping elected officials, I didn’t run myself for the very first time,” Burlison said. “I started out volunteering for candidates. I started out donating to candidates. I started getting involved. But sometimes the people you elect can let you down. They get up there, and they start voting for tax increases, and then they cozy with the lobbyists. That’s what I saw, and I was disappointed.
“So I decided I was going to run and get elected and not be that way. I was going to be a conservative. I put it on my sign. I was going to be a conservative, not just any old Republican. A real conservative. And guess what? Over the last 12 years in the House and the Senate…I have a record listed as the most conservative.”
Audrey Richards said she was representing the people “who don’t show up.” She said those are the younger people who agree with Republican views but feel like their voices are not heard or considered by party leaders.
“Look around,” Richards said. “Young people. Where are we? Why do young people not show up to these events? It’s because we feel like we’re not being heard.
“We have to really start engaging young people because there’s a generational shift happening in Washington, D.C. Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi are leaving soon, and who will they be replaced with? Young progressive women. The Republican party doesn’t have an answer to that. We don’t have a voice. And we need to prove to young Republicans across the nation that women not only have a place in the Republican party but we can be leaders. The Democratic party does not have a monopoly on the voices of young people or of women.”
Dr. Sam Alexander said he would go to Washington to try and fix things because he’s done it throughout his life and career.
“I love this country,” Alexander said. “I love the people of this country. You’re the people we need to fix this country and I will be a representative for each and every one of you. I want to represent you in Washington D.C. and fix the things which are hurting this country.”
Alex Bryant spoke about people who inspired him and the way America needs leaders who will inspire Americans to go to new levels of greatness. He added as a pastor he never thought about getting into politics until he took a hard look at where America stands today.
“I thought pastors should do our thing, and let politicians do their thing,” Bryant said. “Unfortunately, when I stopped and looked at it, politicians haven’t been doing the job we want them to do. The system’s messed up. I knew it all along, but I didn’t really know it until I got involved. It’s like when President Trump said he was going to drain the swamp, and then he got in there and found it was eight to ten levels deep.”
Mike Moon said he is proud of the award that he’s received from the Locke and Smith Foundation, which looks at every vote taken in the Missouri legislature and compares it to the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions, to see which legislators in their view have a voting record that lines up with the Constitution. He also said he’s being unfairly attacked by special interest groups who have good intentions but violate the Missouri constitution.
“American for Prosperity, Club for Growth, CPAC, there are pieces of legislation they’re looking for, and they’re good stuff,” Moon said. “They’re free market, lower taxes, more freedom for living our lives, but in the Missouri Constitution there are specific provisions on how we can pass bills. The bills must have one purpose, and if you amend the bill, it can’t change from the original purpose. I raised my hand in support of the Constitution of Missouri. When get a bill that has good stuff in it, but also a piece of garbage that violates the constitution, I have to vote no. So the groups say ‘we had a priority in that bill, Moon voted no, he’s not for the people.’ I encourage you to look at that.”
Multiple county office candidates addressed the crowd, including Associate Judge candidates Tiffany Yarnell and Anna Morrissey; County Clerk candidates Shanna Tilley and Stephanie Spencer; and Taney County Presiding Commissioner candidate W. Alex McAuley. (Ken Roten and Noah Prahlow were unable to attend but sent recorded messages for the group.)
The meeting ended with those in attendance being encouraged to vote on August 2.