Singer Neal E. Boyd to run for Missouri House seat

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Neal E. Boyd

Neal E. Boyd has already won one big competition that required him to earn the most votes. The 2008 "America's Got Talent" winner and Sikeston, Mo., native now says he hopes to win another contest that will land him the state's 160th House District seat.

Boyd confirmed to the Southeast Missourian on Monday that he has formed an exploratory committee and that he will run as a Republican for the seat being vacated by state Rep. Ellen Brandom, R-Sikeston, next year due to term limits.

Boyd will face off in the Aug. 7 primary against Holly Rehder, the former Jo Ann Emerson campaign staff member who announced her intention to run in July.

While Boyd is a political newcomer, he said he has long been a political thinker and supporter, dating back to when he was handing out yard signs at 5 years old for the late U.S. Rep. Bill Emerson.

"It's always been my intention to be a candidate," said Boyd, 35. "The biggest joke in my family was that I've been running for governor since I was 5 years old. Well, it used to be a joke."

No Democrats have announced intentions to run, though the last date to file for the primary is March 27. The 160th includes portions of Cape Girardeau, New Madrid and Scott counties. Democratic committee leaders did not return calls seeking comment Monday.

Boyd's political leanings had been ambiguous: He performed for President Barack Obama and Gov. Jay Nixon, but he also took the stage when U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, a Cape Girardeau Republican, won re-election last year.

"I don't know if the area's ever seen me as a Republican," Boyd said. "But I've always been a conservative and my friends and family always knew that. But I literally have friends -- real friends -- in both parties."

For her part, Rehder, a Sikeston businesswoman and owner of a cable communications company, said she knew the race would draw interest from other candidates. She called Boyd "an amazing artist" and said she is a big fan.

"I certainly wouldn't get into a singing contest with him," she said. "However, the focus of this race will be on who is best suited for the position. The 160th District needs a conservative in Jefferson City representing them who is focused on jobs."

Rehder, 41, cited her experience running a small business as what the region needs.

But Boyd, who released an album in 2009, pointed to a legislative internship he served with former representative Paula Carter, also a Democrat, and his time as president of the Student Senate and political science degree from Southeast Missouri State University. He said he also is familiar with the business world, having worked for Aflac Insurance in St. Louis for several years.

His political positions will become more clear throughout the campaign, he said, but his big issues are job creation and working to eliminate illegal drug sales and use in the community.

He said he understands that he needs to "reintroduce" himself to the community to show them that he's more than a man who sings well.

"People have never known what to make of me," he said. "I was the little, fat, interracial kid who grew up in Sikeston. There's more to me than what you find when you type my name in a search engine."

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

Sikeston, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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