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Independent Candidate Craig O’Dear Envisions 'Mediator' Role in U.S. Senate

Liz Malarkey
Craig O'Dear sitting down in the KSMU studio for an interview.

Craig O’Dear is running as an independent candidate for the US Senate seat currently held by Claire McCaskill. O'Dear says he's looking to fix what he calls a broken, two-party system in the Senate.

O’Dear says he would shake things up in Washington by creating non-caucus space in the Senate and by becoming what he called a “mediator” between Democrats and Republicans who frequently spar in the Senate.

“The two party system that we have today is broken and it has caused two major issues: its caused a broken Senate and its caused a divided country,” says O’Dear. “Our view is—the view of this movement is—the only idea today in American politics that addresses this issue is the idea of independents.”

O’Dear says his campaign is a “historic opportunity” to elect an independent candidate from Missouri to the US Senate.

“I’m running this race to give the people of Missouri power to do something that hasn’t been done. And introduce a force in our national politics that does not exist—a new force that says, ‘We will be responsive to the people and not to the people who run—the party leaders,’” O’Dear says.

Because O’Dear is not affiliated with a political party, he has to get on the November ballot in a different way. He's required secure at least 10,000 signatures from registered voters in Missouri.

He says he can’t gauge how close his campaign is to reaching that mark until all the signatures are gathered from volunteers and others working for the campaign. O’Dear has until the end of July to gather and submit those signatures.

O’Dear also calls his campaign “clean and crowdfunded.”

“People, that’s where we raise the money and I put some of my own,” O’Dear says. “I am not an independently wealthy person that can put millions of dollars in a race. That’s often the type of person that runs for Senate seats. I’m not that person, but I have put substantial, you know, of my own money that I’ve invested in this myself because I feel like unless I’m willing to put my own money into this I can’t ask my friends and supporters to do that.”

O’Dear says he believes elections are moving away from fundraising and more toward substance.

“There’s this constant early in the cycle competition among the R (Republicans) and the D (Democrats) to each raise more money than the other one and brag about how many millions of dollars they have in the bank,” O’Dear says. “That’s not what wins a race anymore. It used to be very outcome determinative, not anymore. Now the question is ‘who has the superior message?’ and ‘who is more effective communicating it.”

He's relying heavily on social media for advertsising, he said.

O'Dear says he leans right of center on economic issues and left of center on social issues.