Richard “Rich” Lott and Becoming a Politician

Just two short years ago, in 2010, Richard “Rich” Lott was a Republican nominee for the United States House of Representatives representing Ohio’s 9th District. However, the lifelong Ohio resident says he’s never had an interest in becoming a politician. He held multiple positions in the grocery business for a few decades, and in 1997 he became Chief Executive Officer of Seaway Food Town, a regional chain of 75 supermarkets and drugstores. In fact when his lack of political experience was mentioned during his campaign, he replied by saying: “That is exactly my qualification. I am not a politician, never have been and don’t intend to become one.”

The 60-year-old only spent a year in the political arena. “I just noticed the things that were going on around me in Ohio and realized how bad they were. I felt the need to offer myself and serve,” he explains.  It was more of a sense of duty for Richard Lott. This reflex to serve others is something the former Republican nominee acquired at a very young age. He even goes as far as saying that it has been his guiding principal in life. When Richard was growing up, his dad Wallace or “Wally” use to tell him: “This community allowed us to make a great living so we have an obligation to give back.” So to Richard, helping others comes naturally. “I was raised to believe you have an obligation to serve your fellow man,” he says. So, in a way, this is why he ran for office. Richard felt obligated.

In the end, his Democrat opponent Marcia “Marcy” Kaptur won by 35,822 votes. She’s been in office since 1983 and is the longest-serving woman in the House. Richard describes her as a career politician. “She doesn’t have a concept of the real world,” he says regarding her criticism of how he handled the merger of his grocery business. “She didn’t understand why I would want to sell a company that was doing so well. She didn’t understand the strategy behind it; that you sell when times are good, not when things are falling apart. She just blamed me for putting people out, even though that wasn’t the case. Most employees continued to work even after the merger.” To Richard Iott, her reaction made sense. He knew she had been a career politician and was recruited for Congress while pursuing a doctorate in urban planning. She had never worked in retail. In the end, the former politician is okay with the results and says he probably won’t run again. “I’m happy I tried. At least I offered myself. At the time, I had just hoped I could bring something new to the office,” he explains. “And just by bringing awareness of the issues in that office, I accomplished that.”

Charles J