Richards announces run for Billy Long’s seat
Article in the Branson Tri-Lakes News by Jason Wert
Another hat has been thrown into the 7th District Congressional race’s ring. Audrey Richards announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination to replace outgoing Rep. Billy Long on Thursday.
Richards told the Branson Tri-Lakes News the fact she’s not a life-long politician will be an advantage against her opponents.
“When people look at the slate of candidates, I believe they will see me as something new and not more of the same,” Richards said. “I was born, raised, and educated in this district. My grandparents’ farm has been here for over 45 years and I have deep roots in this community. The people here helped make me who I am.
“The other unique quality I have is federal government experience. Actual on-the-ground operations experience at the US Treasury Department. Politicians like to talk big, but passing legislation and implementing policies are two separate things. I have the experience to understand how to work with government agencies to accomplish what the law intends and to hold the president accountable.”
She says she has three big priorities if she were to win the nomination and the general election: internet, small businesses, and farmers.
“When you listen to people across the district, you quickly realize it is impossible to isolate an issue,” Richards said. “All three of those things are connected. For a farm to succeed, they rely on small businesses like feed stores. In reality, family farms are small businesses. For small businesses to succeed in an economy that is heavily credit card-driven and reliant on e-commerce, they absolutely need reliable internet.”
Richards was adamant that she will not be a one-issue candidate, saying “people don’t have single issue lives.”
While Richards identifies as a Republican, her views have been called more moderate than some of her opponents, and some of the party’s leadership in Washington. Richards says that her view is that of the “modern Republican.”
“This is the party of Lincoln, focused on keeping America together and moving forward. Conservatives want an answer to ‘the squad’ because they’re not part of rural America,” Richards said. “The people here need someone who can go toe-to-toe with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and say that just because something works in New York doesn’t mean it works in our neck of the woods. America is moving forward, and we need someone to ensure that our district, our people aren’t left behind by the federal government as they have been for so long. I think that will resonate with Republicans across the spectrum.”
Richards is known for some controversial statements about Republican leaders, calling Senator Josh Hawley “a plague on the U.S. Senate” and an “embarrassment to the state of Missouri.” She said she stands by the statement.
“Right now, Senator Hawley is threatening to hold up Department of Defense nominees right when that department needs leadership the most!,” Richards said. “That is not pro-military, that is not pro-America, that’s pro-Josh. As my mentor likes to say, ‘Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.’ Josh Hawley is playing a very stupid game. I will be happy to work with Senator Hawley when he stops working for headlines and starts working for the people of Missouri.”
Richards also addressed a now-deleted Facebook posting the week after Branson’s 2021 municipal elections, which read: “To the Branson-area trolls going through my public profile and laughing at all my political posts simply because I said something positive about our outgoing mayor and aldermen, you’re just proving why I don’t belong here.”
“That post is referring to my struggle with social media,” Richard said. “I am a straight-shooter, and Facebook is filled with people who like to play games. I gave a speech of appreciation for our outgoing mayor and aldermen back in April, and some people didn’t like that I had respectful things to say about our former mayor. They let me know as much on my personal page, and it irked my tater but I moved on.”
Richards ran in the 2020 general election against Long as an independent, write-in candidate, earning 1,279 votes in the four way race.