A powerful lineup of politicians was in Springfield Saturday night addressing hundreds of supporters at Doling Park for the 59th Annual T.A.R.G.E.T. BBQ and fundraiser.
Governor Mike Parson, Senator Roy Blunt, Congressman Billy Long, and many statewide elected officials were on hand for the gathering inside the Northview Center.
“I think this is the biggest off-year gathering I’ve seen since I started coming to T.A.R.G.E.T. barbecues,” Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr told OI. “Part of it is we have a lot of house seats up for election next year and a lot of new candidates who’ve brought their friends. It’s good for the party because it brings a lot of new enthusiasm to the party.”
The host for the event was State Senator Eric Burlison who introduced local candidates running in 2020. Several currently serving officials, such as Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott and County Commissioner John Russell, confirmed they will be standing for re-election.
“I know people are interested in what’s happening in their government and it’s nice that Jefferson City comes to them at this event,” Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe told OI. “I can’t believe how many people are here and how much energy is in the room.”
Rep. Billy Long addressed the crowd, thanking them for attending, and then threw out frisbees and gave away backpacks which he proudly told those in attendance “were made in America” and from his D.C. office.
Senator Blunt spoke to the crowd and addressed what his son called the “cosmopolitan world view.” He defined it as the view by a few people in society telling everyone else how they should live their lives.
“And frankly if anyone should have learned anything in 2016,” Blunt said, “it’s that ‘everybody else’ is getting pretty darn tired of being told by people who are better off than they are what is good for them only to find out that it’s not good for them at all.”
“You see what’s happening on both coasts, in Washington, in New York, in California,” Blunt continued, “Those political elites think they know better than anybody else does about what everybody else should do. The American people are tired of being told what’s going to be good for them. What’s good for them is a growing economy, what’s good for them is a better job, what’s good for them is salaries at the lower levels growing faster than they are at the upper levels, and by the way, that’s what happened in the last two years.”
Governor Parson was the keynote speaker for the event and addressed a wide range of issues from employment to Planned Parenthood.
“My belief is very simple,” the Governor said. “Planned Parenthood, they put on a show and they put it on all day long. They did this for publicity, I get it, that’s why they did all this stuff. They used it before they filed suit for a fundraising campaign.”
“But I’ll tell you this,” he continued, “Planned Parenthood isn’t going to get a license until they follow the requirements of the state of Missouri just like everyone else.”
The governor also addressed some national issues like the Democratic Members of Congress who have been putting forth what he termed “socialist” ideas. He told the crowd that it wasn’t the Members of Congress that scared him but the fact there were thousands of people who voted for them. He then encouraged those who supported Republicans to come out to vote because otherwise you would get elected officials like the ones being “highlighted” in the national news.
The governor also spoke with OI after his speech and addressed the same issue.
“What you see with them is that you think common sense should prevail but it doesn’t,” the governor told OI. “People get into office with these political ideas, especially when it comes to socialism, that’s not who we are in this country. That’s not who I served this country for in the Army to protect that. Everybody has a right to be here, but when you start to promote socialism as being hatred to anybody, that’s not what I believe in.”
He also addressed rural broadband.
“We’re trying to figure out through providers by saying ‘what’s the problem here’ and putting pressure on them,” Parson said. “We tell them there’s a lot of money on the table here but you guys have to provide the service. We’ve got to get it done. We still have 8 to 10 school districts in Missouri that don’t have broadband internet. That’s ridiculous, and we need to figure out a solution to that.”
The event was also a fundraiser for local domestic violence shelter Harmony House, with hundreds of personal items collected for those in the organization’s shelter.
Here are a few photos from the event: