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Christofanelli: Roy Blunt ‘a legend of Missouri politics’

In the wake of the announcement that U.S. Senator Roy Blunt will not run for another term, state Rep. Phil Christofanelli praised the senior senator’s long political career. 

“Roy will absolutely go down as one of the great legends of Missouri politics,” Christofanelli said. “Very few people in American history have ever had the privilege to serve both in House and Senate leadership at the federal level, and whether you agreed with Roy on issues or not, I think everyone understood that he always went to Washington and put Missouri first, and for that I’m really grateful for his service.” 

Christofanelli appeared on Sunday’s episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” to discuss the first half of this year’s legislative session, including his own legislation. 

Christofanelli’s HB 349 narrowly passed the House last month after several compromises and plenty of debate. The bill would establish the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program, allowing taxpayers to claim a tax credit for contributions to educational assistant programs. An amendment added on the floor made the creation of the program reliant on an increase in K-12 transportation funding.

“The schools that can now accept these students that previously wouldn’t have ever been able to afford to attend their institution are going to go out and try to connect the parents and kids with these types of scholarships,” he said. “The parents themselves I hear every day are desperate for choices — they want options for their kids and they’re looking to the state to obtain them.”

Christofanelli also opened up about his personal life on the show, publicly revealing he is gay. 

“People do want to know a little bit more about their representative and their life and their values, and I’m happy to share that information,” he said. “I’ve never felt like my personal life cost me anything politically, and I’m very blessed for that.” 

Roy Blunt

State Reps. Peter Merideth and Jim Murphy joined this week’s panel alongside political consultant David Barklage and FSB Public Affairs’ Ryan Hawkins. The panel discussed Blunt’s announcement, with the senior senator receiving praise from across the aisle despite political differences. 

“He was an excellent statesman,” Merideth said. “Ideologically, I might have been extremely upset with him on a regular basis, but when it comes to constituent services, he was there for people, and when it came to putting Missouri interests first I think that he did a great job of that.”

With several contenders already preparing to compete for Blunt’s spot in 2022, Barklage said there was plenty of time for the race to play out before Election Day

“One of the most important things in a race like this is how early the vacancy becomes open,” Barklage said. “In a situation like this, you have plenty of time for everybody to assess, to meet, to talk, to determine their strength, and for the herd to be thinned. I think you’ll have a consensus way before filing starts, and to that extent, I think you’ll have a very unified front.”

Watch the full episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” below, or listen to the podcast version here.