Rep. Holly Rehder knows what it is like to come out of poverty and what it takes to start a small business. It’s with those experiences in mind that she has officially launched her campaign for the state Senate.
“I think it is incredibly important to have someone who understands those two very important pieces — as small businesses drive our economy and social services is something that is eating up our budget,” the southeast Republican told The Missouri Times.
Rehder, who is halfway through her final term in the House, is making a 2020 bid for SD 27. Sen. Wayne Wallingford, who is term-limited in the upper chamber and running for the Missouri House, represents the district encompassing Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Madison, Perry, Scott, and Wayne counties.
While Rehder amended her campaign committee for the Senate bid in January, she officially launched her campaign on Monday. In an announcement video, she focused on her life experiences — from dropping out of high school to earning a bachelor’s degree to becoming a business owner.
“The fact that I did have to make it on my own, that I did have to find nonconventional ways to become successful, that is what made me stronger. That is the strength that drives me as I am working on policy — policy to help pull people up and rise to their potential and not lock them in the poverty cycle. We need to be helping people become self-sufficient, self-reliant,” Redher said. “I think it is so important to have people from different backgrounds working on policies that affect people.”
Rehder said she knows what it is like to come out of property, stressing, “It is utterly important to have people who have been there.” At the same time, she has been “signing the front of paychecks for years” as an owner of Integrity Communications.
“That is one of the main things that got me interested in running in the first place: seeing how government affected me personally with my business and in turn affects everyone who works for me,” Rehder said.
While in the House, she has championed legislation pertaining to right-to-work, paycheck protection, and grandparents’ rights.
Rehder has been the leading advocate for establishing a statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). She noted PDMP is not a “silver bullet” to fighting the opioid epidemic but a step in the right direction. During the 2019 regular session, her bill, HB 188, was a spark of tension with the Senate Conservative Caucus. Even so, Rehder projected her relationship with the six-member group will be “a very good one” if she is elected to the chamber.
“I’m someone who business is business, personal is personal. The work we do in the legislature, I don’t take it personally,” said Rehder. “I have friends from all walks of life who agree with me on some things and who don’t agree with me on some things.”
Fellow Republican Rep. Kathy Swan is also running for the seat, setting up the two lawmakers for an August 2020 primary.
“It is good to have primaries. We are both Republicans, but I think there are very strong contrasts between the two of us. I think that is good. It gives the voters two very different people to choose from,” Rehder said. “You hate running against someone that you agree with on many issues, but I think it is good and healthy for our party.”
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.