A pretty busy week, all things considered. Candidates continued to cross the state, while the Senate candidates battled over voter problems. And Gov. Jay Nixon, not running for anything, came to the Star for a candid conversation. You can hear it on iTunes!
Also, keep an eye out below for a link that will blast you to the past.
To the trail ...
☆ Missouri governor
Crime is now a major issue between Eric Greitens and Chris Koster, Jason Hancock reports.
The Missouri Ethics Commission dismissed complaints against Koster and Greitens involving out-of-state PACs who didn't register in the state but donated big cash to each candidate.
Missouri Democrats hammered Greitens for taking donations from “a notorious anti-worker businessman and a Wall Street insider.” They’re most worried about a $100,000 donation from James Parsons, a New York banker. The Dems also claimed Greitens would harm workers by supporting a right-to-work law in Missouri.
Republican slapped Koster for his ad claiming a role in a murder case. The Post-Dispatch calls the Koster ad misleading.
The Republican Governors Association gave $2.5 million to his campaign (the RGA gave Greitens $1 million on Aug. 11). Greitens’ team says Koster has taken nearly $9 million from “union bosses, trial lawyers, and special interest PACs.”
Greitens and Koster campaigned in the state this week, stopping mostly in smaller cities in rural Missouri.
☆ U.S. Senate, Missouri
Roy Blunt and Missouri Republicans continue to link Secretary of State Jason Kander with voting irregularities in St. Louis. Don’t miss this incredible Post-Dispatch piece on problems in the 78th Missouri House district.
“Jason Kander has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of responsibility, accountability and transparency as the state’s chief elections official,” said a release from GOP advisor Rich Chrismer.
The ballot problems in St. Louis are serious, and need addressing. But we’ve said this before: The secretary of state has little or no direct responsibility for problems in local elections.
More importantly — and you knew this was coming — Missouri elections weren’t squeaky clean when Blunt was secretary of state either (see Jo Mannies’ excellent report here.)
In 1986, moreover, Blunt’s office sent a voter in Parkville a letter disclaiming direct state responsibility for local elections, a position held by all Missouri secretaries of state.
The letter was signed by Ray James, who later served for years as the Republican director for the Kansas City Election Board. “The Secretary of State has no direct supervisory power over either County Clerks or election boards,” James wrote, over Blunt’s name.
And Blunt has faced accusations that he manipulated state election policy for his own benefit.
In 1991, candidates for office stood in line to declare their candidacies, often weeks before the official sign-up day arrived. The reason was simple: ballot placement was determined by the order of candidates signing up to run. Candidates firmly believed the first candidate on the primary ballot had an advantage, so either they (or a surrogate) would hold a place in line to ensure the top spot.
Blunt was Missouri secretary of state in 1991, and would be a candidate for governor in 1992.
In 1991, Blunt’s office told candidates it would draft rules for line-standing late in the year, so there was no crush to be first. But in October, Democrat Jay Nixon (of all people) unexpectedly started a sign-up line outside the secretary of state’s office.
Someone representing Republican Blunt quickly jumped into place, the Star reported at the time. The other GOP governor candidates howled — Blunt, they said, had unfairly taken advantage of Nixon’s move to gain the spot at the top of the Republican primary ballot for governor.
"One of the few responsibilities of the secretary of state’s office is to provide for a fair election process,” a spokesman for a rival GOP candidate said at the time. “Obviously in this situation (Blunt) did not provide for a fair process. He took advantage of a situation that only he had access to.”
Blunt’s office denied the charge, of course.
A tempest in a small teapot? Yes. But Republicans have raised election oversight as an issue, so there you go.
☆ Kansas legislature
Allies of Secretary of State Kris Kobach have started a Kansas PAC and a company, the Hutchinson News reports. The group — whose leader is also involved in the Kansas campaign for Donald Trump — is expected to provide support for conservative legislative candidates.
At the same time, conservative blogger Danedri Herbert says someone from St. Louis has given $3 million for conservative causes in Kansas.
We don’t know who the St. Louis donor is. The first though, of course, is Rex Sinquefield, the well-known businessman who’s given millions to Missouri candidates and causes. Has Sinquefield donated in Kansas? Yes.
But a Sinquefield spokeswoman said she knew nothing about any such donation, and Kansas Republicans said privately they doubt he’s the source of the cash. Kobach said Thursday he doesn’t know who Sinquefield is. Other GOP officials say Sinquefield is closer to Gov. Sam Brownback, and that Brownback and Kobach don’t always see eye to eye.
In any case, we’ll want to see if the $3 million turns up, and where. The spending report for the new PAC isn’t due until the end of October.
☆ A governor in full
Gov. Jay Nixon came to the Star this week to talk about lots of things — you can hear lengthy excepts here, on the Star’s Deep Background podcast. Subscribe!!
Some tasty quotes:
On ethics: “When you have unlimited contributions, unlimited gifts, and term limits, it is a stew.”
On his record: “I don’t want to say I didn’t make any mistakes. In this job you call a lot of balls and strikes, and nobody’s perfect.”
On his dispute with the public defender’s office: “Those are stunts, Dave. You know it and I know it.”
On Eric Greitens: “What’s Greitens said? What’s his position on anything?”
On Josh Hawley, GOP candidate for attorney general: “I appreciate Professor Hawley wanting to rid our planet of birth control. But I don’t think that’s the sole purpose of being the chief law enforcement officer of the state. See, I got you a quote finally.”
On politics in general: “The fact that you don’t have an issue-rich year at the federal or state level is what concerns me more about our democracy. … You have a Trumple-down effect of just this popularity politics.”
On Ferguson: “The false narratives that arose around that will just be frustrating to me. To say I wasn’t there, when I was. … I will accept what criticism people want to give, but I would not and will not order Missouri’s soldiers on American soil to lower the barrels of their guns and point them at unarmed citizens and shoot them. Not going to happen.”