Jefferson City, MO — There has been plenty of coverage about the 8th district Congressional race. Many names were talked about before things were “official.” And now that we’ve been through a few candidate forums and a dropout or two, the field is emerging clearly.
Those still in the race, especially on the Republican side, have gotten plenty of coverage. Freshmen state Senator Doug Libla of District 25, from the boot-heel of the 8th district, surprised some party insiders when he didn’t seek the seat.
“I’ve been focused on state government and running for this seat, I had my hands full,” Libla told The Missouri Times. “It happened so abruptly, I didn’t want to make the transition to fast, I wanted to stay focused on where I’m headed and mind my responsibilities here.”
Libla might not be seeking the seat, but whispers abound about a primary challenge in 2014 with whoever captures the district. Libla is passionate, and he probably won’t let anyone from his party off the hook if they don’t represent the 8th — and Libla’s own constituents in the 25th — on the federal level in a conservative and responsible way.
“Whoever goes down [to Washington D.C.] needs to cut the spending back,” Libla said. “We’ve got to apply some business principles to government. We need to take care of the people who can’t take care of themselves and then focus on education and job training.”
And Libla knows a thing or two about business. He and his brother, David, started and managed several successful businesses dealing largely with manufacturing and trade on an international level. He and David made headlines in recent years when they successfully sued China through the International Trade Commission for dumping cheap steel into U.S. Markets.
Mid Continent Nail Corp was Libla’s primary business at the time, and they manufactured and sold nails across the globe. Both the Libla brothers made headlines for pushing the ITC forward, as well as alerting Customs and the Commerce Department of trade unfairness. And when the investigation got slow, or when China didn’t honor the ITC ruling or the protective tariffs the U.S. used in response to level the playing field, Doug Libla wasn’t hesitant about pushing forward. The Libla’s hired private detectives to sniff out how China was smuggling goods into the country, and documented cases of fraud.
“People talk about a global economy or being globally competitive in this new age, and sometimes I think they don’t really understand what that really means,” Libla said. “International trade is complex and it takes lots of work and some guts. You have to be willing to get involved and to fight for things.”
A businessman with the resources of Libla has the potential outraise and outspend any opponent, as he did former Representative Terry Swinger last fall. Add his name ID in the Cape Girardeau media market, his talking points on Chinese currency manipulation and international trade, a conservative with roots in Poplar Bluff who has a wealth of local support, and Senator Doug Libla is probably the most dangerous man in the 8th to run against in a primary in 2014, when he will be mid-term.
“I just hope they have the people in mind, the people of the district, when they go to [Washington] D.C.,” Libla said. “We’ve got problems to fix. We’ve got education in this area that is just not where it needs to be, and education is what can create better job opportunities.”
He is also passionate about the need for 21st century educational methods. “Abstract reasoning ability,” is a favorite of his, he says. Factories aren’t like what they used to be, and new workers need to be better trained.
“There aren’t menial jobs anymore, not like their used to be,” Libla said. “You get kids graduating with 4th grade reading levels, and they can’t compete. That’s something I want to fix, something I want to be involved in changing.”
Computer technology, higher-order reasoning skills, and a little old-fashioned wisdom: “First you learn to read, then you read to learn.”
With that kind of mix, it’s hard to imagine Libla not considering a run in 2014. Although, he’s firmly mum on the issue, “I’m not saying I will be a candidate, and I’m not saying I won’t be,” Libla said. “I’m just going to focus on this work right now, and we’ll see how things come together.”