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Nixon, Kander tout Medicaid, early voting to party faithful

By Collin Reischman

Hannibal, Mo. — Gov. Jay Nixon and Secretary of State Jason Kander were featured speakers Saturday morning as Missouri Democrats launched their political season at Democrat Days in Hannibal.

Speaking to about 300 activists gathered for the weekend, Kander focused much of his speech on making a passionate case for expanding voting rights. He was critical of Republican efforts to “stifle” the vote by passing legislation that would require photo identification at the polls.

He spoke at length about his Early Voting Commission and the recommendations they recently made on expanding and improving early voting in the state of Missouri.

“Missouri is one of only 15 states without a system in place for no-excuse early voting,” Kander said. “While the Republicans are focusing on keeping people from the ballot, I established a commission to make voting easier, better, and more fair.”

Kander implicitly denied the notion that voter fraud was a problem in the state, suggesting instead that the combination of unlimited campaign donations and unlimited lobbyist gifts were “the real election fraud.”

Meanwhile, Nixon continued to make his case for Medicaid expansion, calling it a “business” decision and reminding the audience of the many Republican governors who are implementing the program in their states. He also said it was a moral imperative.

“We’re talking about people who work,” Nixon said. “When we talk about the 300,000 people in Missouri who would be eligible if we expand Medicaid, we’re talking about hard-working Missourians.

Nixon also touted his support for expanded funding for education and mental health, calling both an “investment.” With education, Nixon said more funding would lead to a better workforce and higher wages. Nixon said emergency rooms and country jails were the wrong place to administer mental health services, and pledged more money for state-funded mental health support.

“We’re not just talking about spending more,” Nixon said. “We’re talking about getting more for what we spend.”

Nixon and Kander both left after the morning’s speeches. Attorney General Chris Koster was expected to speak at a dinner later in the evening. State Treasurer Clint Zweifel did not attend the weekend’s festivities because of a long planned swimming competition of his daughters he attended.