SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The seventh district GOP congressional candidates debated on Wednesday, July 20. There are a total of eight candidates vying for Billy Long’s Congressional seat.

Each candidate present gave an opening statement. Candidates include Sam Alexander, Audrey Richards, Alex Bryant, Mike Moon, Paul Walker, Eric Burlison, Jay Wasson, Camille Lombardi-Olive.

Opening Statements:

Dr. Sam Alexander: “I’m running for this seat because of the state of our country. I feel our immigration system is broke. Everything I’ve done is fixing problems. I want to help people.”

Pastor Alex Bryant: “We all know what’s going on in our country. We have to look at who’s going next to lead us out of these issues. I believe we need a person that has experience and wisdom, but we also need someone to be a story we can get behind.”

Senator Eric Burlison: “I love the work ethic southwest Missourians have that I want to take to DC. I am the most conservative lawmaker in Jeff City.”

Camille Lombardi-Olive: “I’ve worn a lot of hats. As a politician, I believe that you serve the people and give back, and I don’t mean money. That’s what politicians need to do, give back.”

Senator Mike Moon: “Some people say you have to be half-crazy to get into politics and some will say I am half-crazy. I’m not concerned about the next election.”

Audrey Richards: “Americans are struggling under the Joe Biden presidency. Money should not dictate our elections.”

Colonel Paul Walker: “I’m the only veteran in the race. I have a very strong and non-wavering belief in God. I do not have a hidden agenda in the 7th district. What you see is what you get.”

Senator Jay Wasson: “I will support securing the border. I will support and protect life. I would support peace through strength and law enforcement.”

Organizers asked candidates several questions. Each candidate had 30 seconds to answer. The candidates also could send in questions for their opponents.

Question 1: What specific things would you like to see the Republican Party move forward in its first 100 days in 2023?

Dr. Alexander: “We have we have a problem of spending in this country. We need to put America first. We need to balance the budget. We could power this country for a thousand years with the amount of nuclear material that we have and it’s the cleanest energy that we can have. No one is talking about it. We need to drill oil. We need to take on these bureaucracies that are strangling our businesses to death and put America first.”

Bryant: “We need to put America first. People are tired of us being second rate citizens in our own country. We need our own borders secured by our government. Around three or four million people have come in here since Biden got elected. We need to make sure that we are the ones that are producing our own energy. When the borders open and when we are depending upon other people for security, that makes us vulnerable to hostile players and people that don’t have our best intentions.”

Sen. Burlison: “The Green New Deal or the idea that we’re going to power the next century off of rainbows and unicorns isn’t going to work. We have got to stop hindering ourselves and and start exploring every resource that is in America that includes all of our gas. All of our oil reserves also allow for real exploration. The reason why prices are so high, because the futures market has been disrupted, because these industries know that they have an administration that’s hostile to them. We have got to have Congress members that are willing to do what I did in Jefferson City and be willing to take go after these bureaucrats, put your blood on their neck whenever they go after American companies. And Missouri businesses.”

Lombardi-Olive: “Number one, re-open the keystone pipeline. Number two, stop offshoring our oil reserves to foreign countries like China, Norway, and India. We need to come first. Fuel sets the price for everything. So you have to fix the oil crisis. Number two do we need to fund endless wars? I thought that was a campaign promise of Biden.”

Sen. Moon: “We need to continue mining for natural gas. The regulations that are affecting our businesses are just overly burdensome. I believe we can take a close look at reducing unnecessary burdens and regulations that will positively affect what we do and everybody in the whole United States. In addition, you talk about the baby formula shortage in your question. That was exacerbated by the lack of oversight in the inspections for over a year. Finally when that was rectified they offloaded palates of baby formula leaving our Americans without that.”

Richards: “We need to re-instate the crude oil export of 1995. All crude oil drilled in America needs to go to American customers, which would drastically lower the price of gas. And then of course, that lowers the price of everything going on in the supply chain from there on out. So it will lower the price of goods across the board. And it would also create a gap in the international market. So you would be killing two birds with one stone by passing or reinstating one piece of legislation.”

Col. Walker: “My major concern is the illegal drugs flooding over the southern border and that I think a lot of our problems in this country are related to those illegal drugs. The 170,000 people last year died of drug overdoses. We have the homeless population. We have crime in the city. And you can trace back to drug use and illegal drugs. So I feel like we need to put a stop to those the illegal drugs coming in. And if that means targeting the drug lords, as we did in Afghanistan that’s what we should do.”

Sen. Wasson: “Having a balanced budget amendment. I think that’s the first thing I would push for if I were elected. I think that that spending money that they don’t have, the trillions of dollars that they spend is what’s causing the inflation today. I think that’s affecting real people. It’s real money and real people out of their pockets. Over $500 a month for most average families. Now, that’s what’s important. And that’s got to sink. They’ve got to stop spending money that they don’t have. Simple as that. Thank you, Senator.

Question 2: How would you vote on the issue of same sex marriage?

Dr. Alexander: “I’m a Christian also, and I believe God’s word that marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman. I have friends that feel otherwise, and I have no problem with them having a domestic arrangement. I feel they should have the right to do that. But again, marriage was for the home and for the children. To have a place where children grow up with a father and a mother. People are expecting to have their way and push them away on other people.”

Bryant: “Marriage is between a man and a woman. I mean that’s what most people in Southwest Missouri believe. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not for everyone living the way that I do. You can do what you want to do, but we’ll try to put that into our society, our culture, and then try to preach that belief to our kids in the schools, that’s the problem. I mean, once you give a little edge, you always want to take a mile. We give American people especially people in southwest Missouri. We are conservative Christian people.”

Sen. Burlison: “Marriage is between a man and a woman. I would vote against that bill. You know, it I think it’s sad where a country is gone where they don’t recognize the impact that the church once had on the community. Sadly, we have allowed for government to supplant the church in a lot of the areas of our life. And I think that it’s just it’s part of culture. But I would absolutely oppose that.”

Lombardi-Olive: “Everything we do as far as the marriage, marriage was a dictate created by God. I’m a Christian, so it’s between a man and a woman. I do not believe the Congress needs to impugn their ideology and their belief structure on the rest of America, including those who are Christian based. So no, marriage is a man and a woman, period. If you want something else, some other arrangement, that’s something else. But I can’t believe Congress is going to continue to try to mandate our ideology in this country.”

Sen. Moon: “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I also believe that we shouldn’t be codifying protected classes. And so I’ll just make sure to sweep it. I would not support that.”

Richards: “I am pro free speech. I am pro gun and I am pro keeping the government out of your home. I believe that regulating marriage is a church issue and is not a government issue as far as I’m concerned. Whatever gender combination you want to make between two consenting adults is none of my business. I believe America has far bigger problems.”

Col. Walker: “I believe marriage is also a contract between a man and a woman. And, you know, we have so many other important issues that we ought to be looking at. This seems to be something that could be handled at the state level. Why haven’t you even come up before Congress at the federal level? But anyway, I know in the military, we have a program of don’t ask, don’t tell. That is none of our business. And as long as you can keep it within your relationship, that’s fine. I don’t know why we can’t do that outside of military.”

Sen. Wasson: “Marriage should be between a man and woman. Period.”

Question 3: What real world things can be done to stop supply chain issues and stop inflation?

Dr. Alexander: “All of us that have worked hard and put money back, it’s not worth anything today compared to what it was because they printed too much money. They’ve inflated things. The bureaucracy these are killing our business. Our truckers are totally locked down. And that’s why we have our supply chain issues. We need to fix those problems. And cut these bureaucracies.”

Bryant: “The government is trying to control us. That’s the Democratic playbook. They want to control and force us to move in a certain direction. And so they’re trying to cut us off of the supply chain and a lot of the things they’re doing. And so we just have to we have to get a different government get the vote in Republican leadership to working to get rid of all the regulations that they’re trying to put on us so we can open up the natural flow of capitalism.”

Sen. Burlison: “We need to stop paying people to not do anything to sit at home and not work. When it comes to diesel fuel costs, we need to allow and eliminate some of these ten hour rules that our truck drivers have to face. I know that from the trucking industry, which is important to Southwest Missouri that’s a huge issue. But we need to regulate some other things when it comes to the trucking industry. One, there could be the additives in their fuel costs things that are driving up the price of diesel and other things are affecting everything they do by themselves.”

Lombardi-Olive: “You don’t have enough money to buy product and you don’t have enough money to keep your businesses open to produce those products. So, you know, we have to get better people running our government right now. We have a ragtag group of, I don’t know, court jesters trying to play some game here, play some sort of game, and it’s not working.”

Sen. Moon: “We’ve got excess spending and then with the government regulation are causing prices to rise. It was mentioned earlier about transportation costs being affected by fuel. And so I think we off funding for us to control our spending, balance our budget. And I think things will start to move the right direction.”

Richards: “I do actually have expertise in policy. And I will reference once again the crude oil export ban. You have to look at the root cause of inflation. You have to look at the root cause of the rising price of goods across the board, which is the fact that it costs more money to get them to the store. Because gas is so much more expensive now. And if we lower the price of oil by ensuring that all American drilled oil goes to American customers, it will lower the price of goods across the board.”

Col. Walker: “Not vote for any additional spending for a period of time to let this money work itself out of the pipeline. As far as transportation and the food chain, I think that you know, if we really had a government that was concerned about fixing problems, they can fix it by now.

Sen. Wasson: “What is happening today is our own. It’s manmade and it’s done by our own government overspending money that’s been mentioned. Every time they spend money that they don’t have it devalues every dollar that we have in our pocket. When they do that, that’s what causes the high inflation and that’s what it’s hurting people out there right now.”

The August primary will decide which Republican candidate will be on the ballot this November.