With the holiday season now officially underway, Texts from the Trail decided to use our Thanksgiving break to look at what some people in the Missouri political world could be thankful for this year.
- Governor Jay Nixon can be thankful that sales tax numbers remain robust – he is set to pass state’s AAA credit rating he inherited from Governor Matt Blunt onto his successor, and his party is favored to retain the Governor’s Mansion. Not bad.
House Speaker Todd Richardson can be thankful that the next mess he has to clean up will be something that happened on his watch instead of a predecessor’s. One of Missouri’s most promising political talent’s future starts now.
- Candidate for governor Eric Greitens can be thankful that he has maybe the most productive rolodex in Missouri politics. The Colbert move was strong.
- Senator Mike Kehoe can be thankful that he just won an uncontested leadership race and is seemingly uniting his caucus in a way that is very atypical in the modern Missouri Senate. If he can maintain that unity while keeping some of the traditions of the senate alive, he stands to foster an impressive legacy of statesmanship.
- The University of Missouri can be thankful that during one of their most trying times they had the presence of mind to hire Andy Blunt to help them with the legislature they annually request appropriations from. Missouri’s flagship campus can look to better days ahead, unless they reverse their decision on their hospital partnering with Planned Parenthood. If they do that, also hiring John Bardgett, Steve Tilley, Jorgen Schlemeier, David Jackson, Richard McIntosh, and Danny Pfeifer won’t be enough to save them the legislature’s wrath.
- AFL-CIO President Mike Louis can be thankful for their political opponents being so heavy handed. Coming out of a bruising veto session, ads began running against Republicans who opposed increased a new business regulation. If those legislators fold next session after taking those shots, they can kiss their legislative credibility goodbye.
- Attorney General Chris Koster has more than most to be thankful for. He is raising money at an aggressive rate, has no primary challengers and is pro-gun with a large amount of farm support. His race will always look to get far enough away from national Democrats and President Obama, and as of Thanksgiving, it looks like he has a good chance. If anti-gun mayors keep attacking him for suing the Obama administration, it will only help him.
Senator Joe Keavney, the senate minority leader, can be thankful that the Obama administration is ending and we may have seen the low water mark for senate Democrats. Senator Scott Sifton running for re-election is a welcome development, the race in 19th is a true toss up, and Republican primaries could give them pickup opportunities in the 15th and the 23rd. The immediate future certainly looks brighter than the immediate past.
Senator Eric Schmitt can be thankful for nearly $2 million cash on hand, no primary opponent, and general election opponents who combined haven’t raised $100,000 and are in a competitive primary. The 2020 or 2024 campaign for governor may have already begun.
- Secretary of State Jason Kander can be thankful that he is running a great campaign for U.S. Senate even with some unfriendly national issues being thrown his way.
- Catherine Hanaway can be thankful that her campaign has endured one of the most challenging first quarters in Missouri political history and is ending the year coming off a successful bus tour in the thick of the Republican primary for governor.
Missouri Democrats: their very well run state party can be thankful for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. While he has certainly taken shots over it, his work on the left may end up being responsible for ballot measures that increase Democratic turnout in terms that could be the difference in a close election year.
- Missouri Right to Life – Senator Kurt Schaefer’s Sanctity of Life Committee delivered MRL their biggest victory in over a decade when they shut down the abortion services of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia. There was some grumbling that MRL wasn’t active enough supporting the committee. However, victory heals all – and make no mistake – this was a big victory and a banner year for Missouri Right to Life.
- Senator Schaefer: speaking of the senator, he has been on what may be the most impressive earned media run of any six-month period in recent Missouri politics. The candidate for attorney general has put the wind at his back with a successful fundraising year and record of accomplishment on key Republican primary issues that is unmatched. The proof is in the fact that the Kansas City Star has labeled him the scariest man in Missouri – they couldn’t have said anything the senator would have been more thankful for.
- The Kansas City Star: speaking of the Star, while the Brownback administration may be becoming an old hat to kick around, the editorial page can be thankful for a new crop of Missouri conservatives to set their sights on. Eric Schmitt, Kurt Schaefer, Todd Richardson, Mike Kehoe, Will Kraus, Jay Ashcroft, Mike Cierpiot, and Elijah Haahr promise to give them years of conservative leaders to hammer.
John Brunner can be thankful that he has run statewide before. While his 2012 senate run may have been what helped Akin win the primary, he hasn’t had to get up to speed in this campaign and came out of the gate swinging. As Gregg Keller put it, there is nothing that can prepare you for a targeted statewide campaign. Brunner has an idea of what this race will be like and is throwing elbows like he is in it to win it. The next step in the race will be, as it was for Governor-elect Matt Bevin in Kentucky, whether he will write the check to prove to state activists and other small donors that he is all in.
- Carpenter’s Union can be thankful for the successful passing of the torch. The legendary long-time head of the union, Terry Nelson, retired this year and Al Bond has taken the leadership reigns in one of the more successful transitions in recent memory.
Jeff Roe can be thankful that the entire nation is getting to see the Missouri grown talents on display. The strategy he helped craft for presidential candidate Ted Cruz has put him in a position to be in the top tier once voting starts in few weeks. There is a very real chance that to reach him this time next year, you will have to call the switchboard at the Presidential Transition Office.
- Peter Kinder can be thankful that he started the year with many people thinking the highlights of his political career were behind him, and will end the year as the front-runner for the republican nomination. While it’s a legitimate four-way shoot out, Kinder has every chance to win the nomination, and in an increasingly red state, be elected governor: a story you couldn’t write.
- Senator Jason Holsman can be thankful that he is raising money, and has a voting record that – up to now – has scared off any serious primary challenge. He is in a prime position to utilize his final term in the senate to set up a future statewide run.
Senator Dixon can be thankful that he was able to run a brief campaign for governor exhibiting the statesmanship that those in the Capitol know him for.
- We will be back to normal next week talking about “the phone call” and the donation to the Bill Eigel campaign, and Barry Aycock’s donation to Koster, among other things.
- For this week, here are the campaign contributions over $5,000 for the week:
Eigel for Missouri David Humphreys | Joplin, MO $50,000
Koster for Missouri Barry Aycock | Parma, MO $10,000
Missourians for John Brunner Daniel Ruda | Branson, MO $5,000