GOP nominates Scott Cupps for State House
Shell Knob farmer to run in 158th District special election
About 100 people were on hand Tuesday as the 158th District Republican Legislative Committee met at the historic Barry County Courthouse, ultimately to nominate Scott Cupps as the Republican to run in the Nov. 5 special election for the State House seat left open by now-State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick.
Cupps, 33, of Shell Knob, is a former ag teacher and FFA advisor who now works on his family’s crop and cattle farm, mostly handling the cattle.
“In my previous career, I had a chance to travel the country, and in that time, I learned this area is truly one of the greatest places to live in the world,” Cupps said. “And that’s not by accident. It’s because of our values, our morals and our belief that the government should work for the people, not that people should be slaves to the government.”
Cupps was nominated by Barry County Collector Janice Varner. Bob Whitescarver then nominated Cassville banker Landon Fletcher, and Jerry Varner, owner of Making Memories Tours in Washburn nominated himself.
Each candidate was given 5 minutes to address the Committee, in order of nomination. Cupps used his time to tell an anecdote about his time as a teacher.
“When I was the Cassville FFA sponsor, we had to either hire a bus driver out of our own budget, or get a CDL license and drive the bus ourselves,” he said. “Little did I know, when you get a CDL license, you go to the top of the list for substitute bus drivers. I was called a couple times and was always ready and willing, and the third time, I was called right at the end of the school day because one of the drivers had a family emergency. I said I’d be right over.”
Cupps said he went to the bus, parked where the children normally get on, and a young girl, maybe in first or second grade, walked through the doors.
“She got on and asked, ‘Where are you from?’” Cupps said. “I explained that her driver had a family emergency and I was the ag teacher at the high school just filling in. She asked me, ‘So you live at the high school?’ I said, ‘No, I’m from Shell Knob,’ and she said, ‘OK, so you’re from here. I didn’t care about all that other stuff. But the last driver wasn’t from here, and he didn’t know where Jenkins was.’”
Cupps said experiences like that got him thinking about the word “here” a lot.
“I’m from here, and you are from here, and there are a lot of people who don’t care about here — but I do,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunity to go to Jefferson City and represent “here.”
Fletcher told the Committee how he has lived his whole life in Barry County, minus a few years in Kansas when his banking career took root.
“I graduated from Cassville High School in 1968, went to Crowder and then to Southwest Missouri State, then I was a manager at Safeway in Ottawa, Kan., and got my start in banking in that city before moving back to Cassville, with 5 years experience, in 1981. I’ve now been a banker here for 38 years.”
Fletcher said he enjoys his job and would like to continue, but if nominated, that would be the beginning of the end of his banking career.
He talked about his family, such as how he and his wife will celebrate their 50th anniversary next month, and how his two daughters own All Points Recycling. He also listed some of his civic involvements, including Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce president, Rotary president, being on the senior housing board and being active in the Republican Party since Emory Melton was still in the State Senate.
Varner said he sent out two letters to the Committee members detailing his background and expressing his interest in the State House seat. For that reason, he spoke more about the opportunity and the process.
“Tonight, there is good news and bad news,” he said. “The good news is, three individuals want to serve, and this is not a vote of good versus evil, black hat versus white hat. The bad news is, there are three people who want to serve, and you have to choose.”
Varner said the type of vote is unusual, as it’s not at the traditional ballot box.
“Each of you are not voting for yourselves, but as representatives of the precinct,” he said. “That representation comes with a certain dignity and honor to fulfill those duties responsibly.
“If you choose me, I promise to go to Jeff City and work hard — work hard for the unborn, for the second amendment and for small government.”
After the speeches, an anonymous vote was cast by 29 of the 32 total members of the Committee. Cupps received 20 votes, Fletcher earned 5, and Varner got 3. There was one abstention.
“I don’t think anyone could be more excited to go serve,” Cupps said after the vote tally was announced. “I appreciate the opportunity, and I can’t put into words how good of a job Scott Fitzpatrick has done, and I’ll be looking to follow in his footsteps.”
In closing, Cupps turned to the back of the Barry County Commissioners’ office and pointed out the “In God We Trust” sign above the state seal.
“I see that and it reminds me that it’s our morals and our values that make ‘here’ one of the best places to live,” he said.
Fitzpatrick said he is looking forward to working alongside Cupps on the state level.
“I’d like to thank the committee for their quick work to select a nominee for the 158th District seat in the House of Representatives,” Fitzpatrick said. “The committee had three incredible people to choose from, and I want to thank Landon Fletcher and Jerry Varner for their service to our community and their interest in the position. As I told the committee, they had three great people to choose from, and I would support whoever they chose.
“Scott Cupps is fully qualified and ready to serve as the Representative for the 158th district. I look forward to working alongside him in my role as Treasurer once he is elected.”
Cherry Warren is the chairman of the Republican Committee and officiated the meeting.
Maella Blalock is the chair of the 158th District Democratic Legislative Committee. A Democratic nominee for the special election has yet to be named.
The 158th District State House seat represents Barry County and portions of Lawerence and Stone counties.