by Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis
“Like many Missourians, I have found this election cycle to be full of surprises. One of the biggest to many was the overwhelming success of “outsider candidates.” But with approval rates of government at all levels being abysmally low, this should not be remarkable. Voters are ready for reform.
I was surprised, though, to see a recent poll showing showing Donald Trump walloping Hillary Clinton decisively in Missouri, while GOP Gubernatorial candidate Eric Greitens was narrowly behind Democrat Chis Koster. There are a number of possible explanations for this, including Mr. Trump’s decades in the public light and his unmatched name I.D. Meanwhile Eric Greitens, a Navy Seal, author, and founder of a veteran’s charity, is just beginning to introduce himself to Missouri voters. Koster, on the other hand, has held a series of political jobs over the last 25 years, since graduating from law school in 1991.
I am concerned, though, that after a bruising four-way primary, some Republicans who supported one of the other three excellent candidates – Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, former Speaker of the House Catherine Hanaway, or businessman, philanthropist and missionary John Brunner – may be sitting on the sidelines and withholding support from our gubernatorial nominee. I am writing this to give my perspective as to why I believe all Republicans, and all Missourians, should support Eric Greitens.
Some might be tempted to believe that maybe having a Democrat in the Governor’s Mansion is not such a bad thing. After all, Jay Nixon is the “most overridden Governor in Missouri history” (34 times in six years!). So it might appear that we Republicans can move Missouri forward without a conservative, pro-reform governor. This view, I believe, is mistaken.
From my position in the Missouri Senate, I cannot overstate how difficult it is to get the two-thirds vote necessary to override the Governor on a number of crucial issues. Take jobs and labor reform. Missouri’s economy remains in the doldrums, with economic growth ranking 47th out of 50 states, and job creation and wage growth similarly lagging. Since the end of the Great Recession four out of five new jobs created in the entire country have been created in Freedom to Work states. A Governor Chris Koster will block Freedom to Work. Similarly, antiquated, historically racist “prevailing wage” and “project labor agreement” laws result in necessary school, library, and road projects going undone, because taxpayers can’t afford the inflated tribute demanded by union bosses. A Governor Koster will do the bidding of the overlords who elected him. A Governor Greitens will be beholden to no one, and will stand up for all Missourians.
In the area of education reform, twice, in 2014 and 2015, the Missouri General Assembly passed bipartisan bills to reform Missouri’s student transfer law, and improve education choices for our most poor and disadvantaged students in failing schools. I have never seen Democrats and Republicans work so closely and cooperatively to do what was right by the students of our state. Jay Nixon, at the urging of the education lobbyist cartel, led by the government unions, vetoed both bills. Chris Koster could be expected to do the same; Eric Greitens will stand for education reform and fight to ensure that all children receive a quality education regardless of race, income, or zip code.
Likewise, Jay Nixon has repeatedly used his veto pen to block tax reform, regulatory reform, and judicial reform. His judicial appointees have literally rewritten our statutes from the bench to their own liberal Democrat leanings. Eric Greitens will be a reform Governor who will work with the Republican majority in the Legislature to move our state forward while following the Constitution.
And remember the control the Governor has over the bureaucracy: Nixon’s Department of Revenue sent confidential data on Missourians and their concealed carry applications to the feds. Nixon’s Department of Education imposed Common Core on our students and school districts without the consent of the Legislature. And Nixon’s Department of Health illegally issued an abortion license to Planned Parenthood in Columbia, in violation of the plain meaning of the law. If Missouri voters reject Hillary because they fear her administration would be a continuation of the lawlessness of the Obama administration, they should just as vigorously reject Chris Koster, who would continue the lawlessness of the Nixon administration. Governor Greitens would follow the law, the Constitution, and the will of the people.
And then there’s ethics and government reform, hallmarks of Eric Greitens’ campaign. The New York Times, hardly a conservative media outlet, highlighted the pay-to-play, or should we say, play-to-avoid-prosecution, culture of the Koster Attorney General’s office. The Times reported on a Democrat Attorneys General junket at a posh Santa Monica resort. As Missouri taxpayers, we pay Koster to investigate consumer fraud, and in 2014 his office had a fraud investigation open against the 5-Hour Energy company. But all it took was a word (and some contributions) from the company’s lobbyist and the Times reports “he [Koster] reached for his phone and called his office. By the end of the weekend, he had ordered his staff to pull out of the inquiry, a clear victory for 5-Hour Energy.” Similarly, Koster, while receiving thousands of dollars of contributions from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, settled Missouri Medicaid lawsuits against Pfizer for pennies on the dollar compared to other states. If Missourians care about ethics and government reform, can Koster be trusted to lead the effort?
Perhaps a few Republicans still can see supporting Koster because “he used to be one of us.” Koster used to be one of us the way Judas Iscariot used to be an Apostle. Koster announced he was leaving the Republican Party in 2007 because he felt so strongly about embryonic stem cell research (a position, by the way, richly rewarded by six-figure checks from billionaire James Stowers). His betrayal of the pro-life position on this issue was just the beginning. Chris Koster has now completely renounced defense of the unborn, and he has the endorsement of Planned Parenthood. His 100% from NARAL Pro Choice Missouri is telling: it means he embraces the agenda of this extreme anti-life group and has told the group he opposes support for alternatives to abortion, crisis pregnancy centers, parental notification, clinic safety measures, or any limitations to abortion, including partial birth abortion, during any of the nine months of pregnancy.
Meanwhile Koster touts his endorsements from gun and agriculture groups. But these endorsements were largely based on positions he held and votes he took as Koster the Republican. Koster is widely rumored to have national political ambitions. After election to Governor, will his position on the Second Amendment, or agriculture, or energy, look more like Hillary’s, or Bernie’s, or Barack’s? Eric Greitens is pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and pro-agriculture. We do not have to worry about Governor Greitens needing to spend the next eight years appeasing the far left.
Some might challenge me at this point, asking, “Wasn’t Eric Greitens being courted to run for office by the Democrats as recently as 2010?” I personally believe Eric was, at the time, just not all that political. Remember that when cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Bill Frist first ran for the United States Senate, a major negative used against him was that he hadn’t voted in a couple of elections. Apparently he had been so busy frittering away his time doing things like heart transplants, that he forgot to vote. As the founder, promoter, and fundraiser for a major veteran’s charity, the Mission Continues, Eric would go anywhere and meet anyone to support our returning troops. Service, not politics, consumed his time and attention.
Eric Greitens has spent his whole career as a public servant. In 2007, as Chris Koster plotted his betrayal of the conservative and Republican voters, donors, and volunteers who had done so much for his career, Eric Greitens was on his fourth deployment to Iraq, as the commander of an al-Qaeda targeting cell in Fallujah. On March 28, 2007, his unit was hit by a suicide truck bomb carrying poison chlorine gas. Eric was injured but returned to combat days later; many in his unit were more seriously hurt. Eric runs for Governor as an extension of a lifelong commitment to public service, whether as a combat veteran, a Bush White House fellow, or the founder of a veterans’ charity. Most importantly Eric is the loving husband to his wife Sheena and devoted father to their two sons. The Governor’s race in 2016 is truly a study in contrasts. That is why I believe all Republicans, and all Missourians, should vote for my friend, Eric Greitens.”