The Pettis County Pachyderm Club heard from Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Bev Randles, of Kansas City, during its meeting Friday at the Best Western State Fair Inn.
Randles will appear on the Aug. 2 primary ballot with fellow Republicans Arnie C. “AC” Dienoff, of O’Fallon, and Mike Parson, of Bolivar; Democrats Winston Apple, of Independence, Russ Carnahan, of St. Louis, and Tommie Pierson Sr., of St. Louis; and Libertarian Steven R. Hedrick, of Warrensburg.
Randles is a practicing attorney that is new to running for office, although she is active within the Republican Party in Missouri, serving on the board for the Missouri Club for Growth from 2010 to 2015, her last two years as chairman, according to her website. Her family, however, isn’t new to politics, as her husband, Bill Randles, ran for governor in 2012.
“I’ll tell you how I got started in Republican politics in Missouri at all. I was looking around at our party, and I thought the Republican Party has the right message, the conservative message, but I didn’t see people who looked like me. I didn’t see young people and I didn’t see minorities,” she said. “… I want to reach out and broaden the party and bring in young people and excite them, bring over Independents to vote for us, and bring minorities back into the fold.”
Randles said she is a free market proponent and believes “unleashing” the free market will improve Missouri’s economy. She offered a few policy-related ideas that she said would lead to a better state economy:
• Reduce taxes in Missouri: “I believe you are a far better judge of what to do with your money than a bureaucrat or elected official in Washington, D.C. or Jefferson City ever could be.”
• Reduce regulations in Missouri: “Red tape is time, and time is money taken out of those businesses that is taken out of the economy.”
• Provide quality education to all children: “Throwing money at the problem is not the solution. … I’m in favor of school choice program. I think choice is freedom. If you give the parents in these inner-cities the freedom to choose, not all of them will choose it, but for the ones who do, we give them and their kids a real chance to succeed.” She added that she is opposed to Common Core.
• Tort reform in Missouri: “I am in favor of reasonable tort reform. I’m not talking about cutting off anybody’s access to the courtroom, but we have far too many frivolous lawsuits in this state.”
“These are things that will spur the economy and get us back on the right track and these are policies also that speak to Independents and minorities,” she said as she concluded that portion of her remarks.
Randles preached the values of the Republican party to those in attendance, telling them she believes Republicans can win all statewide offices this fall “by pushing conservative principles.”
“We’ve got to make sure we are picking candidates that can reach out broadly, and we as a party need to be reaching out broadly to folks,” she said. “We’re not losing statewide elections because people in the southern part of the state and the northern part of the state aren’t voting Republicans. We are losing because we don’t reach enough folks in the city and pull them in. … If we are going to win, I think the first thing we have to do is remember who we are.”
One of her opponents, state Sen. Mike Parson, is running his campaign on what he calls “positive politics.” Randles was asked by an audience member why she is comparing her views to Parson’s. Randles simply replied that Parson’s political record is “fair game,” noting that Parson said his record is “fair game” in a recent interview.
“There are areas where I will not go as a candidate, but here’s what I take issue with this characterization of it being mudslinging or negative campaigning,” she said. “As a candidate, I’m out here busting my tail all the time for a year and a half. Part of what I’m doing, and I think any candidate ought to do, is point out differences in your record versus your opponent’s record. That’s not negative campaigning to me. … Spouses are off limits, kids are off limits, but your record is not.”
When asked about campaign donation limits, she said she is opposed to limits, as long as donations are transparent and reported, noting that she sees campaign contributions as “free speech.”
She was also asked how she and Parson differ and she offered a few examples, which she said are mostly related to Parson being “big government:” she is against lobbyist gifts, wants less occupational licensing, and is in favor of ethics reform in Jefferson City.
“We need the most conservative candidate,” she said.
Secretary of State candidate Will Kraus is scheduled to speak at the next Pachyderm meeting at noon Friday at Best Western State Fair Inn.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.