Craig O'Dear of Kansas City, Mo., hopes to be on the November ballot as an Independent candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Craig O’Dear of Kansas City, Mo., hopes to be on the November ballot as an Independent candidate for the U.S. Senate.

During a Hannibal visit hosted by his sister, Connie Fox, he explained why he is seeking this position. A native of Lewis County who was reared on a farm, O’Dear has been a corporate lawyer in Kansas City, Mo., for 30 years, noting his experience as a trial lawyer in business litigation has given him experience as a problem solver.

The U.S. Senate has not functioned very well under the two political party system, he said, because the members “no longer serve the best interests of the country. They are more interested in fighting.” He is “not suggesting political parties are evil, but we need a third party.” He is confident he could build relationships with both sides. He said the Senate is gridlocked and broken, because it is controlled by two caucuses and needs help from someone not tied into a party. Noting anger and fear are the two biggest motivators for winning elections, he said what is needed is innovation.

O’Dear explained he will not be in the primary election in April, but if he collects 10,000 signatures by July 31, he will be on the November ballot as an Independent.

Regarding gun control, he said he is pro Second Amendment and is licensed to carry, adding people can be pro gun control and pro Second Amendment, explaining growing up on a farm he learned the difference between regular and assault (military) guns.

Considering free trade, he said America wins in international trade, but with no open market the American farmer loses. He is for competition and free trade, because, “When we have that, we win.”

One of his main interests is healthcare, which he described as a business problem. He is against a federal healthcare program, explaining insurance rates have risen because of the rising cost of healthcare. He said we need transparency, with hospital costs made public. “We need to move to a system going away from fees for services and move toward managed care, and paying for quality outcomes” by “introducing competition, so the consumer gets to make a choice.” He recommended the book, “America’s Bitter Pill” by Stephen Brill.

He has been asked about abortion, and he has learned abortion rates do not decease when it is illegal, although they endanger a woman’s health. He is against abortion but believes the solution is reducing unwanted pregnancy with education and access to birth control.

Education is a big concern, he said, and he believes money should not be taken from public schools for charter schools, because public schools are the only choice for many students.

Considering immigration, O’Dear believes, “this is one of the easiest (issues) to get to common ground,” adding that “we have food rotting in California because immigrants don’t want to come here.” Regarding a wall, he said it “won’t keep drugs out.”

Addressing the current “welfare” system, he believes, “we should have a safety network for those who truly need it and for those temporarily dislocated, but I believe it should be the exception rather than rule.”

O’Dear may be contacted on craigodear.com or his Facebook page.

Reach reporter Bev Darr at bev.darr@courierpost.com.