Republicans dominate the Missouri General Assembly but don’t hold the state’s highest office of governor or the attorney general’s office. GOP candidates are running hard to change that fact this year.
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon can’t run for re-election, and this is a marquee match-up worth plenty of attention from voters. The race likely will get nastier as the weeks go on.
The candidates include two self-proclaimed “outsiders” — businessman John Brunner and former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens — and former U.S. attorney and Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.
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As a televised debate Monday night indicated, they’re all pretty much in sync on anti-union, “right-to-work” legislation that a Republican-dominated legislature has tried but fortunately failed to get past Nixon in recent years.
The candidates also are so tax-phobic they proclaimed no support for increasing the state’s cigarette levy, lowest in the nation. That’s irrational. A higher tax could reduce the Show-Me State’s unhealthy smoking rates and boost revenue for a multitude of good causes.
At some point the four candidates will try to get more specific about how they differ with each other on issues.
As the summer heats up — when the contenders do try to better distinguish themselves — Missouri voters can expect to see a flood of negative TV ads and mailers before the Aug. 2 primary.
Here’s something preferable to that lousy status quo: gubernatorial candidates who spend less time saying what they are against and more time on the programs they will vigorously champion to make Missouri a better place to live.
This race features an unseemly political brawl between University of Missouri law professor Josh Hawley and state Sen. Kurt Schaefer of Columbia.
They want to put a Republican back in charge of the attorney general’s office currently operated by Democrat Chris Koster, who’s running for governor.
In recent months, Hawley, Schaefer and their backers have engaged in the kinds of name-calling and histrionics that should make Missourians wonder whether either candidate has the temperament to hold the top legal position in state government.
Both men have been targeted in so-far-unresolved complaints with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Schaefer’s supporters have raised questions about how Hawley got a leave of absence to run for office. Hawley’s detractors also say he’s using nonprofit groups improperly to help his campaign.
Oh, and is Schaefer threatening MU’s funding in the General Assembly while MU holds back on releasing open-records requests about Hawley’s job there?
Schaefer has received plenty of news coverage for his abysmally failed attempts to kill Kansas City’s earnings tax and his witch-hunt against Planned Parenthood, which also flamed out.
Hawley got dubious attention last year by supporting a jailed Kentucky clerk who discriminated against same-sex couples by refusing to issue marriage licenses to them.
On and on it goes. GOP voters also will sort this mess out in August.