Meet 2 new ‘liberty loving legislators’ and Jewish Republicans

Michael Davis was elected to represent Missouri’s 56th District in Kansas City.

BY ERIC BERGER, ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Roughly two-thirds of American Jews identify with the Democratic Party, according to Gallup polling. And 80% of Reform rabbis affiliate with the Democrats, according to a Yale University study.

But contrary to what you might expect, two first-term legislators  from St. Louis who grew up in the Reform Jewish movement are Republicans. Not only that, but they will occupy neighboring offices and share a legislative assistant.

“We are both liberty-loving legislators, and we’re both endorsed by the Young Americans for Liberty,” incoming Missouri state Rep. Adam Schwadron said of the libertarian college student group. 

Schwadron, 40, grew up in Creve Coeur attending Congregation Temple Israel. He captured 51% of the vote, defeating Democrat Cindy Berne, and will represent the 106th District in St. Charles.

Michael Davis, 25, grew up in Maryland Heights and attended Congregation Shaare Emeth. He will represent the 56th District in Kansas City. Davis defeated two candidates in the Republican primary and then easily won the reliably red district.  

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Both men became involved in state politics as college students and said they were motivated to run for office by their conservative principles. 

Schwadron attributes his political beliefs to his father, an aeronautical engineer at Boeing, who raised “me to take care of myself and help others and not rely on the government to provide for me.”

Davis’ mother fled religious persecution in the Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States in 1989.

“My mother’s experience made me more cognizant of the dangers that socialism and communism pose,” he said.

When Schwadron was a student at the University of Missouri- St. Louis in 2003, he served as an intern lobbyist for the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, a lobbying group, and traveled to the state capital, where he was able to “see the process firsthand, testify for bills, testify against bills, talk to legislators and other lobbyists. During that process, I knew that one day I would want to come back and serve as a legislator,” he said.

In one case, he lobbied against a measure that would have eliminated the presidential primary and switched the state to a party-run caucus even though Schwadron personally supported the proposal. (The measure failed, though Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft continues to push for the change.)

“In that position, my role was to represent the students, and I think it actually gave me greater understanding, having one view on the issue but having to lobby against it,” Schwadron said. “If you can argue against your position and for it, I think that makes you a better person in the long run.” 

Davis, while studying education at Harris-Stowe State University, volunteered on Ashcroft’s 2014 State Senate campaign that he lost to Jill Schupp, and on campaigns for other Missouri Republicans. 

“I didn’t like the direction our country was going in under the Obama administration, so I got involved at the local level and sort of learned the ropes of how these local campaigns work,” said Davis, who then studied at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kan.

While there, he volunteered for Americans for Prosperity, a libertarian advocacy group founded by the industrialist Koch brothers, and, after graduating, was hired as a field director for the organization in the Kansas City area. 

On being a Jewish Republican, Davis said, “There aren’t very many. I am a minority within a minority, essentially. It’s certainly an interesting experience. I think the Democratic Party tries to use minorities in a way where they want everyone to think that they are being oppressed in certain ways, and I think they have successfully used that message with Jewish voters, where they want Jewish voters to think that the Republican Party doesn’t support them and that the Republican Party is only for Christian white men, and that just ultimately isn’t the case.” 

So, what’s at the top of the legislators’ agendas once in office?

Schwadron said the first bill that he plans to file would prohibit waste transfer stations from being within 500 feet of residential property. After drawing fierce opposition from residents, the St. Charles County Council in 2018 rejected a proposal to build a trash transfer station near the Family Arena.

“You take a look at what a waste transfer station does, how it diminishes property values, increases pests and vermin, it’s just a bad thing to have in a residential community,” said Schwadron, who also owns a carpet cleaning business. 

Davis would like to see the state remove the requirement for front license plates on cars because it’s “redundant” when the rear plate is already present, he said. 

Missouri is one of 30 states that still require the front license plate, according to Autolist.com. Davis lives just across the street from Kansas where there is no such requirement and residents thus do not receive unnecessary fines, he said.

In summary, Davis said, “I want to make Missouri a freer state. I want less government. I want Missourians to have more freedom.”

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