The Rev. Larry Rice of the New Life Evangelistic Center may not have formally announced his bid, but he's sounding more and more like a candidate for Missouri governor. Rice says he is considering running either as an independent or as a third-party candidate. The gospel gadfly adds that he will make his decision after Jan. 1. Meanwhile, he's concentrating his efforts on petition drives so Missourians can vote on abolishing the death penalty and raising the minimum wage.
If Rice chooses to run with party affiliation, it will likely be under the banner of the nascent Progressive Party, he says. Rice identifies himself not only with the progressive element but with the populist movement that stirred American political consciousness earlier in the century. "I feel like it's time to reimplement it," says Rice. While working families struggle to get by on minimum-wage jobs, the state government continues to promote "tax-abatement programs for the rich and powerful," he says. "Corporate welfare is thriving in Missouri."
The right reverend doesn't mince any words when it comes to talking about his likely opponents: Missouri Treasurer Bob Holden, a Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Jim Talent of St. Louis County, the Republican candidate. Says Rice: "People have to understand there is no primary, sadly enough, because in the back smoke-filled rooms, they've already selected the Democrat and Republican candidates."