Schatz: ‘My goal is to run for pro tem’

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – With the next session marking the end of the legislative careers for several Missouri lawmakers, questioning minds have been trying to discern just who might be in the running for leadership positions in the Missouri General Assembly.

And one name that has been mentioned more than a few times for the Senate’s position of President Pro Tem is that of Sen. Dave Schatz.

During the October 11 episode of the #MoLeg Podcast, the question was put to Schatz as to whether he would seek the seat.

“Absolutely. My goal is to run for pro tem. I’m not interested in any other position than pro tem,” he responded. “I put my name in there and have been going through the process of making sure people are aware and working to develop the relationships necessary to get the support to obtain the position.”

As of this time, no official opponents have come forward, though Schatz says he thinks Sen. Gary Romine has thrown his name into the ring. Sen. Bob Onder has also been mentioned as a potential candidate for the seat.

“Obviously, I came out early on and let people know that it was my intention. I don’t know that it means anything to be the first person out there, but I have seen in my time in serving in the House that it doesn’t hurt to get out there and make sure that someone doesn’t commit to someone because they’ve already committed to someone else running. I wanted to make sure that people were aware of my intentions going forward.”

When dealing with votes like this in the General Assembly, oftentimes someone who commits to voting a certain way one month could change that when the time comes, where people may flip-flop votes. Schatz says he hasn’t asked anyone to commit their votes at this time.

“Your word is your most key thing, the most important thing you have in this chamber,” Schatz said. “And that’s what I bring to this leadership race. If Sen. Schatz tells you he’s with you, he’ll be with you today, tomorrow and forever. And that’s what people are looking for. They want to trust you and know that your word is golden.”

He says that idea of honoring the importance of his word is something that has been with him since childhood, a lesson learned from his dad and uncle.

But one thing that lawmakers will want to know from whomever the next pro tem is how they feel about the use of the previous question.

“I would like to be able to uphold the traditions of the Senate,” Schatz said. “In the same way that the PQ was rarely used, so was the filibuster. And the continuous use of the filibuster with the purpose of only killing or delaying time is one thing. When we’re trying to come to a significant compromise and using it for that purpose, but simply as a stall tactic at the end of the day? I think the people in this state want to see us get to a vote on the issues.

“I think elections have consequences, and we have majorities, but I also know that we cannot use the majorities to steamroll the minority. We have to include them in the discussions,” he said. “There’s going to be some very tough issues, and sometimes it is necessary to move to the previous question.”

Schatz says that it’s about using the relationships developed to find a compromise, but at some point, an agreement cannot be made. And at that time, it’s up to both sides to look at the measure and decide whether it comes to a vote.

“We just do everything we can to work out an agreement,” he said. “My goal is to take a half sandwich instead of no sandwich at all. I’m not saying I’m a tremendous fan of the PQ, but at the end of the day, it is a tool available to us and the end of the day it takes 18 people to move forward with it on the issue.”

He says, in the long run, it’s about finding what works for all sides and looking at the quality of the legislation in a bipartisan way. He says it’s about respect, about having those hard fights and still being able to look across the aisle and be friends.

Listen to the #MoLeg Podcast for the full interview:

Schatz talks transportation, Senate, and his bid for Pro Tem

Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.