The Missouri Times is speaking to new lawmakers this session. Get to know more of the “Freshmen to Watch” here.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After working behind the scenes of various campaigns over the years, Rep. Michael Davis threw his own hat in the ring for the Missouri House last year.
Davis volunteered on several campaigns — including Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s 2014 Senate bid as well as Rep. Adam Schnelting and Sen. Bob Onder’s campaigns — while attending Harris-Stowe State University and Washburn University School of Law. Even before that, his interest in policy was piqued.
“I’ve been involved in politics since I was old enough to vote,” Davis told The Missouri Times. “I vote in every election. A lot of my colleagues are surprised that I grew up during the Obama administration, but I became involved then because I strongly disagreed with some of his policies so I began working on political campaigns around the time I started college.”
Davis is the youngest member of the General Assembly, something that doesn’t stop him from working toward change. After his predecessor opted for a state Senate bid rather than a re-election campaign, he joined the race and won the HD 56 seat by a wide margin.
“The voters decided to take a shot with a 25-year-old on their ballot,” he said. “I knocked about 7,000 doors personally and was endorsed by Young Americans for Liberty who knocked another 13,000 doors. I did get outspent in my primary, but I didn’t get outworked.”
A Republican, Davis backs the typical conservative platform, from supporting the Second Amendment to fighting abortion. Though some of his legislation takes aim at tax code, government spending, and the size of government, his attention also goes toward lesser-fought battles on his side of the aisle.
“I think my calling here is to push the issues that aren’t always looked at; my main area of focus as far as legislation is criminal justice reform, which doesn’t always get attention from the majority party here,” he said. “Standing up for those who don’t always get an advocate is very important.”
Among the bevy of legislation on deck from Davis this session is a bill that would remove the prohibition against convicted felons running for office in Missouri once 10 years have passed since their conviction. Other bills would allow nonviolent felons who completed their sentence to possess firearms and prohibit correctional facilities and halfway houses from requiring the use of a specific provider for landline services.
While the legislative process is slower and more complex than he expected, Davis praised the collaborative nature of his freshman class and his colleagues’ willingness to find common ground to serve the state.
“We have a really cohesive freshman class,” he said. “Even when we have policy disagreements, I think we’re able to look past them. When we fundamentally disagree on an issue, there are others where we can see eye-to-eye, and I’m willing to work with anyone to get policy done. I would consider myself one of the most conservative here, but if we disagree on 90 percent of the issues, that still leaves 10 percent we can work together on to pass good legislation for Missouri.”