JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - An eastern Missouri lawmaker is facing an election challenge from her own husband, whom she accuses of physical violence. He denies the allegations.
Democratic Rep. Linda Fischer obtained a protection order against John Fischer last week. Three days later, he filed as a Republican candidate for his wife's state House seat, becoming her only challenger in the November election a day before the filing deadline passed.
Linda Fischer said Wednesday that she was not going to question her husband's motives, refusing to say whether she believed he filed as retaliation.
"It is a political campaign, and that's how I look at it," said the first-term lawmaker from Bonne Terre, adding that it was unfortunate that elected officials' private lives are potential theater for disclosure.
Linda Fischer, 39, filed court documents Friday accusing her husband of grabbing her arms and waist to try to wrestle away her cell phone and of sending her harassing text messages. She said she was so afraid that she has been sleeping in her daughter's room with the door locked.
"John has made statements within the past week that after he gets done with me there won't be anything left but ashes," Linda Fischer wrote in the court filing seeking the protection order.
The order issued that same day in St. Francois County was the second she had sought against her husband. A protection order was granted to Linda Fischer against John Fischer by neighboring Jefferson County in October, but it was dismissed the next month.
John Fischer, 51, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he had a verbal confrontation with his wife in March, but he denied any physical confrontation. He said he has asked for a polygraph test to determine if he is lying.
"I have never abused my wife, ever," said John Fischer, noting that he did not want his comments to be interpreted as a criticism of his wife. He later added, "I have never threatened my wife that she had to fear for her life."
John Fischer worked for nearly three decades in Chrysler vehicle manufacturing plants, where he drove a forklift, and accepted early retirement in May. He said he was not running for the House because of the protection order. He said he believes Democrats are wrong in how they have handled the economy, health care and the federal stimulus package.
"I figured if I'm going to be on my own, then I'm going to have to do what suits me," he said. "I'm standing up for people who lost their job. I don't think they're being represented fairly in this state because they do not take care of the working man."
The Missouri House Republican Campaign Committee did not recruit him as a candidate.
Because the filing deadline has passed, other candidates cannot enter the race. To withdraw from the race, John Fischer would need to do it by May 18 or obtain a court order. A Republican Party committee then could nominate a new candidate who would need to file with the Secretary of State.
Before the latest protection order, the couple had been living at the same address. But the court order bars John Fischer from entering the Bonne Terre house, so he said he has been living in a camper.
This isn't the first time a Missouri husband and wife have run for the same legislative seat.
In 1996, Al and Janette Hanson of Concordia filed for the same western Missouri House district. One ran as a Republican and the other as a Democrat, yet they remained close during the campaign. They shared a headquarters in their home, drove together to file and even suggested campaigning together. Neither won his or her party primary.
On the Net:
Missouri candidates: http://mcvr.mo.gov/Elections/CandidatesonWeb/Default.aspx