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Interview with Dave Raithel, Democratic candidate for the 44th House District


Dave Raithel isn't pulling any punches in his campaign for a Missouri House seat -- to him, this race is about what's wrong with the incumbent.

Raithel, a Democrat, is challenging state Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, who is seeking a fourth and final term in the House. Raithel admits the district is conservative -- it was redrawn to take in Republican-leaning southern Boone County this year.

But he says he feels compelled to highlight the problems he sees in the conservative ideology of General Assembly members like Reisch.

Marissa Hollowed: Let's start off by having you tell viewers a little bit about yourself.

Dave Raithel: Very briefly, I'm a 67-year-old veteran husband, father and grandfather. I came to Boone County first in 1977 to go to school here at Mizzou and long story short is I started getting married, started a family. People asked me what I've done over the years: I've been a musician and philosopher, a farmhand and a truck driver. And I say that because those are all the things I did that I made money doing. And I'm now running for, as you said the House Representatives in the 44th District. On account of, I think the country is a bit troubled. I do not much care for my opponent's tendency to glom on to conspiracy theories. And that is a primary reason I got involved, not the fact that she is exceptionally conservative. In a conservative district, that's not a sufficient reason. The problem is, we can't depend on her to think responsibly.

Marissa Hollowed: You say that Rep. Reisch serves a "political religious sect." Explain what you mean.

Raithel: I would say that her principal thinking about politics is to enforce her religious convictions and in a religious perspective on other persons. And I can trust that to the fact that you don't hear about Amish running for office to take power on the grounds that everyone else should ride around in a horse and carriage. That's what I mean, she doesn't have a sense of living in a republic, where people of differing faiths have to accommodate one another. She has no problems and has said in public that she makes some policy decisions based upon her religious convictions, and not on what other people would say is objective evidence. So that's, that's what I'm getting to on that point.

Hollowed: How do you think redistricting will affect the race for the 44th?

Raithel: Well, we all know that the 44th is the geographically largest of the districts in Boone County, and it is the most conservative. So again, the fact that I can be a pro-choice gun owner who believes in universal background checks, isn't really a good reason to get involved in a race. So conservative. The two things are the first one, her willingness to glom on to conspiracy theories and doubt election integrity and, and the kitty litter nonsense that she endorses. But the fact that the Supreme Court did overturn Roe v. Wade, and the extremism of her position didn't affect Missourians when Roe v. Wade was still the law. So now we do in fact have people in Boone County who normally think of themselves as Republican, saying, 'This has gone too far.' People who would normally describe themselves as pro-life do not understand there being no exception for rape or incest or fetal abnormalities, which will not result in a viable birth. Okay, so on those two points, she may have crossed the line where independent thinking people are gonna say, 'Send Raithel to Jefferson City and see if he delivers on his promise to be a responsible legislator. And if he doesn't do that, he'll be easy enough to get rid of in two years.'

Hollowed: You say that you'll use reason and public evidence in Jefferson City. What does that mean?

Raithel: It was like the case of the kitty litter the claims that she makes, that there are kitty litter boxes being put in Smithton and Oakland (middle schools) and in Hickman High School, and she claimed she has evidence but cannot believe it. We're in a situation now where of two public officials, one of them is speaking falsely. If the superintendent, the school district, says this is not happening, and the state legislator says that it is, somebody's not telling the truth. I'm not gonna say he's lying, because I can't get in their mind. But we have a problem here with public officials saying things which cannot be both true. That's what I mean, when we have to have reasonable evidence. You don't go to a holy scripture to determine whether or not what you're saying is true.

Hollowed: What kind of gun control do you think Missouri needs?

Raithel: Well, I'm one of those people who would never have let and AR-15s and AK-47s in the public's hands. They're already out there. so I'm not sure what to do about that. Most generally, I would say, when I talk about background checks, we have to have some way of assessing someone's background. And in fact, giving young people long enough time to accumulate a background, it's pretty unrealistic to decide it's safe to give an AR-15 to someone who's 18 years old. And when there's no other adult around, we can make any reference to whether or not that's a safe and reasonable thing to do. I'm also in favor of what I would call red flag laws. It seems to me that if your neighbor is giving signs of being suicidal, and they've got guns, you should be able to call somebody and say, 'Hey, go check on this person, maybe they should have their firearms taken for a while, you know, until we know they're okay.' Little things like that.

But this is Missouri. I have no interest in bothering people ... who keep firearms in their homes for personal safety. But people have got to start accepting the fact that guns are a particular kind of tool. They're a tool for killing. They're not for making peace. They're for keeping the peace in the most terrible circumstances. And they should be regulated as those kinds of particularly, particularly dangerous tools.

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