Endorsement: Sarah Steelman for Governor

In the race for the GOP nomination for Missouri Governor, voters have a clear choice: a lawyer who went to Washington and became part of the problem or an economist who stayed in Missouri and became part of the solution.

Kenny Hulshof represents the worst of what’s wrong with Republican politics today. Elected as a conservative “farmer”, he barely has the decency to note that he’s actually a lawyer by profession whose family owns a farm. He talks the right talk, but doesn’t walk the walk. He checked his conservative credentials at the door to the cloakroom and started soaking up the lobbyist cash and porkbarrel earmarks.

I have no doubt that he thinks the things he’s done in Washington were necessary for one reason or another. I’m sure he has the best of intentions. That explains one of his votes anyway – it took that horrible highway bill to pave the road to hell.

Hulshof scored an embarrassing 22% on the Club for Growth’s 2007 “Repork Card” – the average Republican scored 43%. That was a big improvement over his 0% score in 2006. And why would he vote for the anti-pork bills when he’s so good at bringing home the bacon – $2,734,480 in solo earmarks, $22,728,480 solo and with other members in fiscal year 2008. Cato’s Center for Trade Policy gives him a 72% rating for opposing trade barriers, but only a 12% rating for opposing trade subsidies. Want proof that John McCain is conservative? Take a look at “conservative” Kenny Hulshof by comparison. The best thing I can say about Kenny Hulshof is that while he may have sold his soul to the special interests in D.C., Jay Nixon never had a soul.

Sarah Steelman doesn’t have the Congressional record, so it would be a hard sell to paint her as superior if it weren’t for two things. One – Hulshof is so bad. Two – she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Master of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia. If there are two kinds of books a politician should have on her bookshelf, they’re books on history and economics. Rarely an event occurs that doesn’t have a close parallel in history and where history doesn’t hold the answers, economics often does. Even if she were a Keynesian, and she isn’t, she’d at least understand some basics that every politician should know: “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”, people always respond to incentives and some of those responses have unintended consequences.

Steelman does have a record, though, and it’s a good one. As State Treasurer she’s done two things of consequence. First, she worked to remove state investments from companies that invest in state sponsors of terrorism, making Missouri the first state to adopt the Center for Security Policy’s “Divest Terror” program. Second, she’s been a solid fiscal conservative. She opposed spending state money on a stadium for St. Louis, cut the budget for her own office and opposed large pension increases for state legislators (which would have directly benefited her as a former State Senator). As a State Senator, she voted consistently for lower taxes and spending.

For Republicans, this primary season has become about voting our conscience in the primaries because of the amount of nose holding we’ll have to do in November with a GOP lineup that looks increasingly feeble. Anyone who remotely considers himself a fiscal conservative has just one choice in the August primary for Governor, Sarah Steelman.

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