Bret Richards, who is one of four Republican primary challengers of incumbent 4th District Congressman Steve King, asked voters to consider as his qualifications his work as a civil engineer, service as an officer in the Army, success in business and that he is “just a guy from Irwin.”
Richards spoke at a meeting of the Crawford County Republican Women at Cronk’s Café in Denison on January 28 about term limits, getting rid of the influence of lobby money and the budget, among other topics.
Richards is the fourth of the five primary candidates to speak at the Republican Women’s meetings.
He told the Denison Bulletin and Review his primary reasons for running for Congress.
“I’m just really tired of career politicians always telling us that they’re going to solve our problems, probably problems they created in the first place,” Richards said. “Really, they don’t have any business trying to fix those problems. Most of them are ours to work out as people.
“I think we do need people that really do care more about the country than a career,” he added.
He was referring to comments he made at the meeting that said if elected and then reelected, he would serve five two-year terms, a total of 10 years, and then return to Irwin.
Richards was asked what he thought of term limits for Senate members.
“It’s a great question because people say, ‘What about Sen. Grassley.’ People point to him as a great example of a good public servant,” he said. “He’s been around a long time. You know, I would probably vote for him again.”
Richards conceded that the Senate may be a little different than the House, so he thought maybe four terms – a total of 24 years – could be the term limit but added that he is open to have a discussion or debate on that point.
But he continued that it may not matter as term limits are never voted on because the politicians are dependent on their jobs.
He asked people to consider his background, as a person with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Iowa, a combat engineer officer in the U.S. Army and his role as CEO of the family business of convenience stores and gas stations, Country Stores, started by his parents, Kent and Sandy.
The business, which employed 300 in rural communities in western Iowa, was sold in 2015 when his parents decided to retire.
Richards, who has master’s and Ph.D degrees, has been teaching quantitative methods to doctoral students at Creighton University.
“As a civil engineer, I was taught how to think about problems logically and solve them. In the Army, my job was to lead others to a common objective. In the family business, that was about creating opportunity in rural America, which is always tough, working together, listening to the public and serving our communities,” Richards said. “Can you think of any place that needs those skills more than our dysfunctional federal government?”
Richard also spoke about the federal budget and the growing debt which he said was increased by another trillion dollars through a bipartisan effort in September.
“$23 trillion – everybody voted for it just about,” he said. “That is actually a national security threat. The interest in the next decade will be almost a trillion dollars. That’s more than we’re going to spend on national defense. What happens when we can’t make the payment? That day is coming if we don’t do something. We don’t talk about that. That’s because it’s easier to give the money away.”
According to figures from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the federal deficit surpassed $23 trillion on November 7 last year ($23.004 trillion).By January 30 it was nearly $23.25 trillion.
A January 2020 report from the Congressional Budget Office projected that federal debt held by the public would grow from 81 percent of gross domestic product in 2020 to 98 percent in 2030 (its highest percentage since 1946) if existing laws governing taxes and spending generally remained unchanged.
Richards said hard choices have to be made, just as they are in businesses and in families.
“I bet we could figure it out. We’d say cut whatever by three percent. We could do it around this table in 20 minutes. They can figure it out back in D.C. They just don’t or they do it to get reelected,” he said.
Richards said he wouldn’t succumb to the wooing of money in Washington.
“I guess that’s just being someone that grew up in rural America – Irwin,” he said. “What do you do”? You chip in and help your neighbor. You coach a Little League team, and when it’s your time to be done and someone else is coming up ready to coach, you let them coach.
“There are 760,000 people in this district,” he continued. “I know there’ll be somebody that can do every bit as good a job as I can and be ready to bring more energy to it, too. Keep that cycle going – that’s how you have an active and involved people.”