One Springfield business owner wants to flip a red seat blue. Dave Gragg, a former journalist who started his own insurance agency, is making a bid for HD 130 as a Democrat.
The district — which includes the communities of Republic, Willard, Ash Grove, Walnut Grove, and Springfield — has been represented by Republican Rep. Jeff Messenger since 2013.
“With a supermajority, I think [Republicans] are not accountable to voters,” Gragg said. “They’ve been more concerned with protecting their control over state government than they have been with making Missouri better. It’s past time to take away their supermajority.”
He noted while the district has been represented by a Republican in the Missouri House for more than a decade, constituents also have voted for Democrat-backed issues. In 2018, 71 percent of voters cast a ballot for Messenger, who won his fourth and final House race, while also voting in favor of a minimum wage hike, the Clean Missouri Amendment, and repealing right-to-work.
The very issues the voters decided on, Republicans have already tried to chip away at, Gragg said. He added that one party having too much of a majority invites a lack of transparency and a lack of accountability.
Attempting to flip the seat is his way of attempting to bring accountability back to the Missouri General Assembly.
“I’ve seen a lot of government officials in action, or inaction. I’ve seen good ones on both sides,” said Gragg. “You find common ground when you can and stand your ground when you can’t.”
A Missouri native, Gragg grew up in Montrose and graduated from Truman State University. The 43-year-old former newspaper journalist started his insurance agency in 2011 and is a member of the Springfield and Republic chambers of commerce. He lives in Republic with his wife, Maria, and their three children.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for the Missouri Times and 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.