Missouri independent congressional hopeful focusing on Social Security

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A man from southwest Missouri’s Nevada hopes to become the first independent elected to Congress from Missouri since 1996.

Robert Smith says he will run as an independent in 2020 against U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, in the sprawling fourth district. He says the two major parties have a duopoly which disenfranchises voters.

“I feel that whenever you’re elected as a Republican or a Democrat, you have to hold party lines, you owe favors,” Smith says.

He says preserving Social Security is one of his top priorities, along with reducing the national debt. He also wants to see increased livable wages. Smith, who worries Social Security will be insolvent by 2035, supports legalizing marijuana and hemp to provide funding for Social Security.

“I believe with the cannabis and the hemp, hemp can open up new industries,” says Smith. “We can make paper, you can make biodegradable plastics which can start fighting pollution.”

Hartzler, who was elected to Congress in 2010, is expected to seek a sixth House term next year. The district includes Columbia, Sedalia, Warrensburg, Lebanon and Moberly. It includes Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster.

Missouri hasn’t elected an independent to Congress since 1996, when Cape Girardeau’s Jo Ann Emerson won. Her husband, then-Congressman Bill Emerson (R), died in June 1996, and because of state law at the time, she had to run as an independent. That’s because the filing deadline for the election had already closed. While she ran in 1996 as an independent, Emerson had the backing of Missouri GOP leaders at the time. After being elected, Emerson was a Republican.

As for Smith, he knows that it’s been 23 years since an independent was elected to Congress from Missouri. He’s pledging to impose term limits on himself.

“As a U.S. House of Representatives member I will not seek more than three terms, which would be six years,” Smith says.

He also says he would reject medical benefits and the congressional retirement package, if elected.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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