What’s next for Peter Kinder?
By STEVE KRASKE
The Kansas City Star
The three-term lieutenant governor late Friday afternoon ruled out a 2014 run for Congress that he very easily could have won.
“I made a commitment, and I will keep that commitment to serve these four years, and beyond,” he said in an e-mail statement to reporters.
In typical Kinder fashion, he declined to respond to questions.
This wasn’t the first time that Kinder had made a feint toward another race, only to back away.
In 2008, he talked boldly of running for governor, but ultimately said no.
In 1998, he made a move toward running for state auditor, but then backed away.
Now, he’s a three-term lieutenant governor, an office that’s little more than a holding pattern for higher office.
Over the years, Kinder’s actions — most notably his dalliance with a former Penthouse Pet — have frustrated fellow Republicans and turned off some of Missouri’s biggest GOP donors.
All that leaves politicos wondering what kind of future, if any, Kinder has in state politics.
His Friday decision was a big one because Kinder might have won a 2014 primary against incumbent GOP Congressman Jason Smith, a freshman. Kinder has deep roots in southeast Missouri, and a winnig run for Congress would have provided him a face-saving career move.
But now where does he go?
For sure, the tantalizing final two words of his statement Friday in which he suggested another run for the state’s number-two post might be in the offing caught a lot of attention.
Over the years, Kinder has fended off all manner of challengers for his office — both from the Democratic Party and his own.
Some Republicans are frustrated that Kinder continues to hold a valuable office that could launch another GOPer’s career. They argue that Kinder doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
They may be right.
Then again, Democrat Jay Nixon held the attorney general’s office for 16 years before finally seeking the governor’s office in 2008. And Kinder can lay claim to having played an important role in the Republican resurrection in the state.
He was the Senate president pro tem when the GOP won a majority in that chamber for the first time in decades.
When engaged, Kinder retains a powerful ability to rhetorically strip the bark off Democrats and raise the GOP banner.
The best guess here is Kinder can remain lieutenant governor for maybe another term or two.
But if he ever suggests again that he wants a promotion, his fellow Republicans may well conclude that they’ve heard that one before.