The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 24, 2012

Susan Redden: 7th District race a daunting challenge for Democrat

JOPLIN, Mo. — Jim Evans, of Ozark, acknowledges it’s a daunting task he’s facing, challenging a Republican incumbent in the race for U.S. representative from Missouri’s 7th District.

The office has been held by a Democrat only once since the 1950s. Republican Roy Blunt, now a U.S. senator from Missouri, held the post for 14 years before Billy Long, of Springfield, succeeded him after prevailing in the election two years ago.

A retired schoolteacher, Evans has made a number of recent stops in the Joplin area to meet local Democrats.

He said he would rather have sat this election out, but he decided to run “because I’m just not happy with the direction our government is going.”

“I don’t feel like Congress is working for the average person,” he said. “Right now, our economy works well for a few, but everybody else is being left behind. It’s hard to see where the reward is for the hardworking, responsible people.”

He blamed “austerity budgeting, a depressive tax code and risk-tolerant policies” for eroding the incomes of the middle class. He said the current atmosphere in Washington is too divisive, and that it appears officeholders “are willing to obstruct economic growth for the sake of partisan politics.”

The candidate said he would have preferred a health care reform model including a single-payer system “because the larger the risk pool, the less expensive it’s gong to be.”

“With Medicare and Medicaid, government funding already is the primary funding source for health care,” he said.

A national health insurance plan with premiums based on income and with Medicare as the model, Evans said, “would almost balance the federal budget,” and remove the health care burden from businesses and state budgets.

An alumnus of Missouri State University in Springfield, Evans holds a master’s degree in math and is an Army veteran. He is retired from teaching in Springfield schools. He also has raised beef cattle and invested in real estate. In 2010, he built a large solar array that generates enough electricity to power his home and an electric car.

In addition to the Democratic opposition, Long also faces two GOP challengers: Mike Moon, of rural Springfield, who ran two years ago, and Tom Stilson, also of Ozark. The Libertarian candidate is Kevin Craig, of Powersite.

On the horizon

Two Joplin area residents will be Missouri delegates to the Democratic National Convention in September in Charlotte, N.C. Jim Hight, of Neosho, will attend as a representative of the 7th District, and Doug Brooks, of Joplin, will attend as 7th District vice chairman and a member of the Democratic National Committee.

State officials who are to attend include Gov. Jay Nixon, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, Treasurer Clint Zweifel and Attorney General Chris Koster, along with U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Political notables from out of state are coming to Missouri in support of GOP candidates in the August primary.

Sharron Angle, who mounted a strong challenge to the re-election of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, will speak at a fundraiser for Stilson, who is challenging Long, on Friday in Springfield. Active in the tea party movement, Angle served four terms in the Nevada State Assembly.

Also on Friday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a former presidential candidate, will speak in support of Ed Martin, GOP candidate for Missouri attorney general, at a rally in Cape Girardeau.

Susan Redden is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at sredden@joplinglobe.com or 417-623-3480, ext. 7258.

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