Earlier this month Gov. Eric Greitens called for a special election on Feb. 6 to fill the vacancy left by last month's resignation of District 144 Missouri Rep. Paul Fitzwater, a Republican, to serve on the Board of Probation and Parole. Now the first candidate to officially enter the ring has announced his run — and he's a Democrat.
Jim Scaggs was recently nominated by the Democratic Legislative Committee to run for the seat of state representative of the 144th District, which includes Iron, Reynolds, parts of Wayne and Washington counties.
A long-time southeast Missouri businessman, Scaggs is in his third year serving as Iron County presiding commissioner of which he's touting his balancing of the budget, as well as the fact that the county is running in the black financially for the first time in more than a decade.
Owner and operator of Scaggs Rock-N-Lime in Patterson, he cites his 40 years of business management experience — both from the corporate and small business side — as an advantage in serving the 144th District in the Missouri House.
“My primary goal as state representative is to represent rural Missouri with a fiscally responsible business approach," Scaggs said. "There has to be a stop on the over-taxing of counties I would represent. It is unreasonable to think the taxpayers can fund every program coming out of the legislature. Likewise, it does not make sense to gut priorities such as education.”
Scaggs maintains that if he wins February's special election, he "can and will" bring a balance to these extremes.
“It's my stance that the war between the parties must stop," he said. "The extreme left and extreme right use the media outlets just to belittle the other side. This does nothing for everyday Missourians and it’s certainly not working for the citizens of our counties. We need to come to the table and do what’s right for people based on how it affects their daily lives."
It's already obvious that Scaggs' message is going to place a strong emphasis on job creation and economic growth.
“Rural Missouri is dying and our main streets are empty,” he said. “One of the many reasons for this is because no one is selling our strengths and benefits to businesses across the globe who’d love to partner with people like us. That can't happen if those companies don't know we're here. We’ve got to promote the region in a smart way that will persuade them to relocate or startup here.”
Scaggs is also pushing a message of cooperation and bipartisanship that's been in short supply when it comes to the U.S. political scene, both on a state and national level.
“There needs to be a strong voice of negotiation between the parties in Jeff City to bring about change, not only for the 144th District but for all of Missouri," he said. "This is what I intend to deliver for my constituents."
Scaggs’s opponent will be selected at a Republican Party nominating committee meeting set for Oct. 28.