ST. LOUIS – As the Rep. Mike Cierpiot, the current majority floor leader, faces a special election during his last year in the House, Republicans have been competing to replace him. Rep. Rob Vescovo and Rep. Kirk Mathews are both currently vying for the position. Mathews joined host Scott Faughn on Sunday’s episode of This Week in Missouri Politics to talk about his vision as floor leader.
“We have a big caucus, we have a super majority, and I think there are a lot of ideas that are not getting to the surface,” Mathews said. “I think the biggest impact that I can make is helping our caucus’ ideas get to the surface and get heard, and get the fair debate that the voters sent to Jeff City to get heard.”
Should he be elected, he mentioned that he wanted to make sure Republicans have their ideas heard and debated. He laments how the Democrats have exercised more power than he would have liked in the past legislative session. Matthews also addressed some sneaky political strategy from Democrats in SD 8 that he would not tolerate in the House.
“I think the floor needs to be run with a resolute hand: a steady hand, a level head, but very resolute,” he said. “Look at the tricks we’re seeing from the Democrats in Mike Cierpiot’s Senate race. We’re not going to put up with that stuff on the floor. We have to have a firm grasp of what is going on the floor and control that. We’re not going to let the Democrats have the last word on controversial issues. I can’t stand that.”
Should he be elected, he wants to allow the Republican Party to exude more control of the House floor by using aggressive tactics. He thinks that the House Democrats were able to speak on bills too many times. Faughn asked him whether it would take a more aggressive strategy in a House leadership position to manage Democrats.
“I think it absolutely does. We have to limit the debate,” Matthews said. “When we have a difficult debate on a Perfection bill, and then two days later, when we’re on the third read, it makes no sense to listen to that second debate over and over again, just to give Democrats sound bites for the media to pick up on.”
At the same time, he mentions that he will have a respectful relationship with the minority party. Should he be elected, he wants to maintain a cordial relationship by giving the Democrats a certain amount of time to talk on the floor and keeping his word.
“As a floor leader, the floor leader needs to control that,” Matthews said. “I will communicate with the minority leader of how much time they might get on a certain bill and what I tell them, they can take to the bank, because that’s what we’ll do. That’s the way you earn respect. That’s the way you keep control of the floor.”
Matthews seemed to have won the respect of the episode’s panelists, especially former HD 20 representative John Mayfield who has served under different floor leaders.
“Sounds like there is going to be a new sheriff in town,” Mayfield said. “They do have a tough hand behind the scenes, but don’t like to show it all the time. Different situations call for different approaches. Sounds like there is going to be a tougher, new sheriff in town.”
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Michael Layer is a reporter for the Missouri Times and the Missouri Times Magazine. He joined the Missouri Times in August 2017 after graduating from Goucher College the previous May. To contact Michael, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @_MichaelLayer