What an uninspiring political year for free market Missouri conservatives. The one candidate for statewide or federal office with solid free market credentials is the one guy that many of us said “Anybody but…” about for the last 8 years and given the alternative he’s absolutely right to paint himself as the next Ronald Reagan (even if he is older).
Matt Blunt, who privatized the state license bureaus, rescinded the Holden executive order illegally allowing state employees to collectively bargain and turned a $1 billion deficit into a surplus while lowering taxes is not running for reelection.
Running to replace him on the Republican side are a US Congressman backed by the Blunt political machine and with a serious leg up on raising money from the PACs that love him, Kenny Hulshof, and the current State Treasurer Sarah Steelman.
Congressman Hulshof got a 22% on the Club for Growth “Repork Card” last year, voting for only 11 of the 50 anti-pork amendments rated. On free trade he ranks as an “Internationalist”, 78% of the time opposing trade barriers and only 13% opposing trade subsidies (according to Cato Institute). He fed at the pork trough with $2,737,480 of solo earmarks last year according to Taxpayers for Common Sense/TCS Action. And with all those votes to centralize power in Washington, he made lots of lobbyists and their PACs very happy.
Steelman is a solid, steely (forgive me) pro-growth candidate who revamped the investment policies of the State Treasurer’s office to increase returns while pulling Missouri state investments out of companies sponsoring terrorism. When the Democratic candidate for Governor, Attorney General Jay Nixon, would do nothing to stop a state contractor from busing illegal aliens in from Texas to work on state projects, Steelman went to the job site and told the contractor she wouldn’t sign another check. She’s polling ahead of Hulshof right now in Rasmussen polls, probably on higher statewide name recognition, but it’s going to be a hard fight for her to beat the Blunt money machine and many would be supporters don’t have the heart for another losing primary battle this year.
In the chaos that ensued after Blunt’s announcement that he wouldn’t seek a second term, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder also announced he would run for Governor and told Colonel Jack Jackson that the Lieutenant Governor’s nomination was his if he wanted it as far as Kinder was concerned. Some of you may recall that Kinder got the Lt. Governorship over the efforts of grassroots candidate Pat Secrest, filing at the last minute and getting big money and big name endorsements, including fair weather Missourian Rush Limbaugh and then RNC Chair Ann Wagner. In a replay of those shenanigans, he decided he couldn’t beat Hulshof’s potential warchest and announced that he would oppose Jack Jackson for the Lt. Governor’s position. This was, in my opinion, the dirtiest move in Missouri GOP since Roy Blunt teamed up with the Democracts to bash Bill Webster in 1992, driving a stake through the heart of the party that took 10 years to heal and sending Webster, a good man and a great attorney general, to the federal penitentiary.
I was going to back Jackson for Lt. Governor, had added a link to his campaign website and a nice little graphic and was going to write the best endorsement I’ve ever written. It was a story Jackson told at Jasper-Newton County Lincoln Days over the weekend that convinced me John McCain deserved my support. For those who know me, they know what that says about Jack Jackson. I was excited to be able to vote for a leader of Jackson’s caliber. Instead, Jackson announced today that he was pulling out of the race to work for the McCain campaign in Missouri.
The GOP has candidates running for State Treasurer and Attorney General, but haven’t found a sacrificial lamb willing to challenge Secretary of State Robin Carnahan even with promises of money machine support in a future race.
I’m sufficiently unimpressed by the field, and the skulduggery in the Lt. Governor’s race, that I was prepared to endorse the Libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor and Secretary of State. But, as far as I can tell, they don’t have one. In fact, it looks like the last Libertarian candidates in Missouri ran for Mayor of Chillicothe, rural water district boards and Springfield City Council in April of 2007. At least I have the consolation that as bad as Republicans are playing it, the Libertarians still work harder to lose than anybody.
So, for Lt. Governor and Secretary of State at least, I’m endorsing “None of the Above.”