Bob Titus set to represent Nixa in House after Mayor Steele drops out

2022-06-15 14:43:10 By : Ms. Catherine Wei

Bob Titus, a Republican and longtime insurance agency owner, will represent Nixa and western Christian County in the Missouri House of Representatives starting in January.

Titus is the sole candidate left on the ballot in House District 139 after Brian Steele, the mayor of Nixa, withdrew from the race in late April. Titus will succeed Rep. Jered Taylor, who is term-limited after eight years in the seat.

The Billings resident, who owns American Family Insurance in Springfield, said he was spurred to run by "great concerns about the way that the whole country is going."

"I recognize that our best opportunity to make a difference is at the local and state levels," Titus said in an interview. "That's why I think it's my turn to get involved, simply because we need the legislative process to reflect more of the values and thinking of, in my case, Christian County."

Titus' candidacy is founded on five main issues, listed on his website: "increasing school choice, defending the right to bear arms, standing up to big tech censorship, passing pro-life policies and fully funding law enforcement."

"Certainly, we need some transparency there," Titus said of public schools. "And parents, in my opinion, need more control over the school districts."

He said he won't head to the Capitol in January with any "pet legislation," but "with an open mind in terms of how the legislative process works."

Steele, the Nixa mayor, withdrew from the race in late April. He told the News-Leader a new development in his personal career outside of elected office would have made him unable to travel to Jefferson City for five months a year.

"An opportunity came through that I just couldn't pass up and they couldn't get me that deal," Steele said.

"It's unfortunate that it happened the way it did, but I think it'll all work out in the end."

Steele, a Republican, has on several occasions broken the Republican mold during his tenure leading the city. He ordered a mask mandate in 2020 as COVID-19 infections broke out in Christian County, a decision that prompted a failed recall vote last November. In May, he ordered that Nixa officially recognize LGBTQ Pride Month in June — just weeks after the city's school board removed two books and restricted another that all focused on the lives and experiences of queer authors. Steele said he intends to serve out the remainder of his term as mayor.

Titus touted himself as "a real Republican, not a RINO" in his February campaign announcement. 

"Our community has seen what happens when you elect leaders who claim to be conservative but then buckle under pressure when it really counts," Titus said in a news release.

The announcement served as a sharp contrast (and perhaps a response) to Steele, who was first to enter the race in January and said he was running to represent the city and its interests rather than "regurgitate conservative talking points."

Titus said he believed being a "real Republican" was "abiding by the Republican state platform."

"I don't have any particular criticism for other Republicans," Titus said. "I think they mean well, I just think that the platform sometimes gets dismissed or ignored in the process."

Titus and Steele said they had spoken and were looking forward to working in tandem on policy-making to benefit Nixa. Asked what areas the city was looking for lawmakers to prioritize, Steele pointed to economic development in the area as well as "support of our local schools and communities here."

The Christian County seat was held for eight years by Taylor, who Titus said he "shadowed" in Jefferson City during the last week of the legislative session. Taylor is perhaps best known for his ardent support for loosening gun restrictions, including as a sponsor of a state law nullifying federal firearms statute that is under fire in the courts.

Adjustments to the 139th district under a new state House map expand it to the west to include the city of Billings. It now cuts off just south of Nixa, no longer including Highlandville and Spokane to the south. It is estimated to tilt 71.4 percent Republican, according to a third-party analysis of composite vote totals since 2016, and did not draw a Democratic candidate.

Galen Bacharier covers Missouri politics & government for the News-Leader. Contact him at, (573) 219-7440 or on Twitter @galenbacharier.