Saturday, July 16, 2016

Byrne, retired teacher, Common Core opponent,challenges Billy Long

Incumbency has its advantages.

The Seventh District has been bombarded with television advertising telling voters how Congressman Billy Long has been fighting the good fight in Washington (when he is not in Las Vegas, Seattle, San Francisco, Charleston, Louisville, or out of the country).

Long's quarterly financial report, filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) shows the three-term legislator spent $149,000 on those ads.

Getting the message out is somewhat more difficult to those challenging Long.

Included among that number is former teacher Mary Byrne, who made a Joplin campaign stop at the old Blockbuster building on Rangeline Thursday. Social media brought about 30 people to the stop. It had to be social media, or word of mouth, since the area's newspaper of record, the Joplin Globe, did not find it worthy of mention.

While Billy Long spent more than $300,000 in the last three months, including $50,000 for meals, $4,000 a month to White Birch Strategies, the startup fundraising firm that is handling Long's Weekend in Vegas fundraiser scheduled for September 30-October 3.

The incumbent Congressman has fundraisers all over the country (especially in Sin City). Mary Byrne, on the other hand, had her campaign spread out over a table- bumper stickers, t-shirts, yard signs, and a newspaper handout that offered information on her background and her stances on the issues

While Long spent more than $300,000 during the past three months, the Byrne campaign spent $21,000 according to her FEC report. Most of that money came from Byrne and her family.

Long, on the other hand, received thousands of dollars from special interest PACS, including Tmobile, General Electric, Microsoft, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, the National Beer Wholesalers, Quapaw Tribe, Pfizer, Exxon Mobil, Walgreen, Anheuser-Busch, Sprint-Nextel, Safari Club, and Anthem Insurance.

PACs contributed close to $150,000 to Long during the last quarter, or about 75 percent of the $201,315.56.

The odds (and the money) definitely favor the incumbent.

Byrne, who heads Missourians Against Common Core and who spent four decades as an educator, made her case to the small, but enthusiastic, gathering.

With a delivery that immediately gives away her former profession, Byrne said the Washington had "negotiated away our ideals for business interests." Much of that, she said, was done through the federal No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, and is continuing with the recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act, which passed with Long's approval.

:(Long) has played into the hands of the insiders and made himself comfortable," Byrne said, adding that if was time to "vote the millionares," including Long, out of office.

During the question-and-answer portion of Byrne's stop, she was asked how she would remain in touch with her constituents.

"I would bring back town halls," Byrne said. "I can't explain why Congress people don't do it."

Billy Long, she said she has heard, "only comes to the Seventh District when he needs money."

Byrne will return to Jasper County Monday night when she speaks at the Jasper County Republican Ice Cream Social at Memorial Hall in Carthage.

More information about Mary Byrne can be found at her campaign website.

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