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Ben Brown, vocal opponent to local shutdowns during pandemic, announces Senate run


Ben Brown, a St. Louis restauranteur and one of the most vociferous opponents of COVID-19 shutdown measures in Missouri, announced his run for state Senate Tuesday. 

Brown, 36, owns Satchmo’s Bar and Grill in Chesterfield — a focal point of protests against restrictions enacted by St. Louis County Executive Sam Page. A Republican, Brown has launched a campaign to replace term-limited Dave Schatz in the upper chamber. As it stands now, SD 26 includes Franklin and St. Louis counties. 

“Prior to the pandemic, my focus was on growing my business and expanding to multiple locations, and I believed that at the time, that was the best way to secure the future for my family,” Brown told The Missouri Times. “What I observed over the past year, both here and across the country, my priorities began to shift because I started understanding securing their economic future alone wasn’t enough. I started thinking I needed to turn my focus more toward what kind of world I wanted them to grow up in.” 

“There are people at all levels of government who seem to keep forgetting their primary goal is to defend the rights of the people,” he continued. “I feel that we need more people like myself to use their voice and remind those in power that they work for the people and not the other way around.” 

Aside from his work with his restaurant, Brown has been active in local Republican politics. He’s served as the chairman of the Franklin County Republican Central Committee and as the Missouri national committeeman for the Young Republican National Federation. 

Brown identifies as a “constitutional conservative” and said he’s “100 percent pro-life and pro-Second Amendment.” But in an interview with The Missouri Times, his main focus is on government overreach. 

“First and foremost, there’s an overarching theme about the proper role of government that needs to be addressed,” Brown said. “Government has shown how quickly they can step in and infringe on your rights. I understand we’re in a health crisis; just the fact that so many people are willing to trample on rights guaranteed by the Constitution … just  blew my mind.” 

In December, Brown appeared at a press conference with a bevy of Republican politicians, including Sens. Andrew Koenig and Bill Eigel, as the former introduced a bill meant to limit the ability of local officials to mandate and enforce county-wide shutdowns. 

Over the past year, nearly 75,000 people in St. Louis County contracted COVID-19 and more than 1,700 have died. In Franklin County, about 170 people have died, and nearly 8,500 are confirmed to have had coronavirus. 

Brown credits his involvement in wrestling while growing up as giving him the “stubborn mentality” he is putting toward running for office. He started wrestling in the eighth grade and ended up losing every match. He told his parents he would continue in high school and win a championship. And he did. 

“That was the first thing in my life when I completely committed myself to a goal and just worked year long for it,” he said. “That taught me that you can go from being at the very bottom knowing very little about something, and you can achieve anything you set your mind to if you put in the time, have the work ethic and drive, and believe in yourself. Once you prove that to yourself, you can take that and put that toward a professional career.” 

Brown resides in Washington and is a member of the Missouri Restaurant Association and the National Rifle Association (NRA).