JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Richard McIntosh, partner at the influential Flotron & McIntosh lobbying firm, started in the Capitol, has sweet potatoes to thank for his career in Jefferson City.
McIntosh was quickly herded to the office of Senate giant Dick Webster once he was approved by his own senator for a position in senate appropriations. McIntosh had recently graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in finance and did not have the slightest idea who Webster was.
Webster, a Carthage Republican, served in the Missouri General Assembly for 42 years – 28 of which were in the Senate. He died during his senate service.
“Renowned for wit and oratory, [Webster’s] knowledge of our State’s history and politics made him an unchallenged authority and earned him the reputation as the State’s most influential legislator,” former Sen. Jack Danforth said to the Senate in 1990 upon learning of Webster’s death.
A double degree in finance and management was what McIntosh thought would be the key out of an agrarian life in Southeast Missouri. Surprisingly enough, Webster knew McIntosh would be one of the hardest of workers when McIntosh shared he had harvested sweet potatoes while discussing McIntosh‘s experience.
“It’s backbreaking work,” McIntosh said. McIntosh got his Jefferson City start in senate research, and went on to join Jay Nixon’s staff when he was elected as attorney general.
When Rep. Gracia Backer became minority leader, she asked McIntosh to be her chief of staff – effective immediately. Backer called Nixon late in the evening, despite their infamously rough relationship, and alerted him of her need, and McIntosh started back across the street shortly thereafter.
McIntosh walked into a House of Representatives that lacked a supermajority and demanded cooperation between the parties. In a time less computerized, McIntosh was a resource to legislators regarding legislation and procedure.
“We had as many Republicans as Democrats coming to us asking what was going on,” McIntosh said.
Former Minority Leader Rep. Mark L. Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) remembers McIntosh over a decade later as someone who was able to keep things moving.
“I remember Richard well,” said Richardson. “He was very intelligent, but what I remember most that he was very objective, fair and very bipartisan in dealing with the legislature and I enjoyed working with him.”
McIntosh‘s expertise is public policy, not politics, and is quick to share. There is a difference. He didn’t work campaigns and never had an interest in the political side of the state, though he saw many of the pre-term limit legislative giants work their magic.
“Politics is not about what is actually good public policy – it’s about getting elected,” McIntosh said. “Good public policy often does not equal politics and will not get voters excited. They’re not the same.”
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.