JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After an unsuccessful bid for the state House as a Republican, Rik Combs has set his sights on the Governor’s Office — this time as a libertarian.
The retired U.S. Air Force officer said the party switch was due to his values and that the Libertarian Party platform more closely aligns with his beliefs.
“It’s more of an emphasis on smaller government, personal responsibility, protection of private property, and things along that line,” Combs told The Missouri Times. “A lot of Republicans run on it, but when they get in office they don’t actually [follow through].”
He noted, if elected governor, he would follow through on lowering taxes, cutting spending, and protecting private property.
“I am running for governor because I think I will do a good job for the people of Missouri to enhance freedom for people, to help the environment and, the biggest thing, to help the economy,” Combs said.
He enters the 2020 gubernatorial race as the lone libertarian to announce, increase the candidate field to four. Gov. Mike Parson and Rep. Jim Neely are running as Republicans, and State Auditor Nicole Galloway is making a bid as a Democrat.
Parson and Galloway are considered the front runners with more than one year until election day. They also have an advantage when it comes to finances.
As of the July quarterly filings, Parson had $1.15 million, and Galloway had $133,000 cash on hand while Neely had $18,912 in the bank.
Galloway had brought in $117,259. Parson, on the other hand, raked in nearly $120,000. Both also spent similar amounts this cycle: Galloway spent a little more than $45,000 whereas Parson spent about $42,000.
In contrast, Neely did not spend or bring any money for the quarter. Combs just created his campaign committee and has no reports to file until January.
Meanwhile, Parson’s Uniting Missouri PAC reported more than $2.8 million cash on hand with nearly $649,000 coming in this quarter. Galloway’s Keep Government Accountable PAC reported $20,937.75 with $9,000.00 coming in this quarter. Both committees have received several large donations since the last filings.
Though he is coming in with a long road to Nov. 3, 2020, Combs is optimistic.
“Voters have the final say,” he said. “If I can my message out, I can do pretty well.”
Combs grew up on a seedstock operation, where his family raised Hereford and Charolais cattle. It was in that environment where he learned responsibility, hard work, and persistence — characteristics he said he maintains to this day.
After three decades in the Air Force and a stint serving as CEO of Baron AG, Combs and his family relocated to Jefferson City in 2009. Jill Brady Combs, who grew up in mid-Missouri, is a veterinarian at Westside Veterinary Clinic.
Even though he has lived here for 10 years, Combs said some still view him as an outsider. But to him, this is his home.
“I wasn’t born in Missouri, I have not lived here my entire life, but I chose to live here,” Combs said. “It wasn’t by happenstance or by chance that I ended up here. We chose to live here. We chose to set down roots here.”
Including Missouri, Combs has lived in 10 states: Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, California, Nevada, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. He’s also been to several countries around the world.
“I think I can bring those experiences and that knowledge to the Governor’s Office. I bring a vast amount of experience,” Combs said. “I have a lifetime of service to the country through the military, as a leader. I have led a lot of people in wartime and peacetime. That is sort of my forte: management, leadership, management.”
Alisha Shurr is 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. Contact Alisha at email@example.com.