The Missouri Times: Why are you running for Congress?
Todd Richardson: A couple of reasons. First, we’re at a turning point in this country. The federal government is expanding at an incredible rate. They cannot and will not control spending. I think these things have long-term problems for our country. We’re at a tipping point. I decided to run because I think I can help fix some of that. Number one, I’ll be a relentless advocate for my constituents in dealing with Federal bureaucracy. Second, I’ll stay true to the 8th district; I won’t let DC change me. Third, I will be a stern advocate for conservative policy.
TMT: How did you become a conservative?
Richardson: When I was a teenager. I grew up around politics. I probably would have been a Republican by raising, but I started to get engaged in politics during the 1992 Presidential election. I’d get home from school and watch CNN’s only political show. I saw Bill Clinton as a guy who looked at government as something that should be sort of paternalistic for the American people, while the Republican Party focused on self-reliance and freedom and letting people make their own choices.
TMT: You said you wanted to make an effect on Washington. What’s something you’d cut, or what taxes would you raise, to balance the books?
Richardson: First, I’m not gonna raise taxes under any circumstances. We’ve played it out before. We’ve raised taxes over and over, and long-term it does absolutely nothing to reduce the deficit or the debt.
TMT: Some would say you’ve tried tax cuts over and over again too.
Richardson: We have. Most of the history shows it has been effective in spurring economic growth.
TMT: Are there any legislators in Congress that you admire, or that you might pattern yourself after?
Richardson: Paul Ryan and Rand Paul. Ryan, first, because he got out on a limb and proposed a budget that was serious about spending when no one else was. In doing so, he changed the conversation. We’re talking about spending and reform of these large programs because of that. He’s got a young family. He’s a guy that, from everything I can tell, remains a normal guy. Seeing Ryan have such an impact on the national conversation while also remaining a normal, outside-Washington, kind of guy gave me the confidence that someone could do that. I mention Rand Paul because here’s a guy that unquestionably stands on principle.
TMT: What are some things about [Congresswoman] Jo Ann Emerson’s time in Congress that you’d like to continue?
Richardson: In my experience as a state rep, Jo Ann’s commitment to constituent service is second to none. Any time I’ve had a constituent with a need on the federal level I’ve always found a timely response from her, and always felt her people were trying to solve the problem. She spent 16 years of her life working I this district and people should appreciate that. But this contest is about the district going forward.
TMT: What were some things you maybe didn’t agree on with?
Richardson: Well we differ on policy in some pretty substantive ways. I would not have supported the auto bailouts. I would not have supported cash for clunkers. I wouldn’t have supported No Child Left Behind. I wouldn’t have supported the fiscal cliff deal. I respect her and her opinions, but I don’t always agree.
TMT: Why are you the best candidate?
Richardson: I think if people look at the combination of skills I bring to the table and the ability to communicate our message, the ability to be a strong conservative with the backbone and willingness to stand for those principles. That’s why I think I’m the best candidate in the race. And that’s not a reflection on the other candidates. But I’m obviously running because I think I would do the best.
TMT: A lot of people mention you and Jason Smith in the same sentence. Why would you do better than him?
Richardson: Well Jason is a friend of mine. He’s a colleague of mine. I have a lot of respect for Jason. I’m not, in this process, going to say one negative thing about Jason. What I’m going to focus on is what my skills are and what I can bring to the district.
TMT: Jason Smith points to having more experience than you. How do you respond to that?
Richardson: We’ll he’s been in the legislature longer than I have, that’s a fact. But if you look at my record in the last 2 years, I wasted no time in getting to work when I got to Jefferson City. I’ve been part of some of the largest policy discussions over the last two years. I’ve passed major legislation, and I think I’ve got all the experience I need for this job.
TMT: If elected, do you commit to serve the full term each time?