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Republican caucus divided on RTW strategy for 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Right-to-Work legislation may be a priority for some Republican lawmakers like Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, but some party members are hesitant to put the issue front-and-center ahead of the 2014 elections.

“It’s a fractious issue for us as a caucus,” Rep. Myron Neth, R-Liberty said. “And for some of us, we see it as something that will likely lose us some seats in the legislature.”

Neth, whose district features the Claycomo auto plant, said that if RTW were on the ballot he “might as well not run,” despite being a likely “no” vote on the issue.

“It’s really a calculation about what it’s worth to you,” Neth said. “Some of us see it as something that won’t really be a silver bullet, so is it worth the bloody battle that would ensue if we pushed it? I don’t know. I think there are things we are willing to really go to bat for as a party, and I’m not sure if this is it.”

Rep. Denny Hoskins
Rep. Denny Hoskins

Neth said that some members have been much more adamant about pushing for RTW legislation, and that as a caucus, there have been relatively few discussions about strategy.

Warrensburg Republican and Speaker Pro Tem Denny Hoskins said that he believed RTW would make Missouri a more business friendly state, but that the caucus should also focus on legislation where there is more agreement within the party.

“Personally it’s not an issue that’s a high priority for me,” Hoskins said. “I do think it would be a win for our state and our party, but I also think we should focus on the areas where there is more agreement and we can carry a message together as a party.”

Hoskins said he didn’t necessarily think Republicans were guaranteed to lose seats by making RTW a ballot priority, saying he felt the timing of the election would be more important. A primary-election date RTW ballot, he said, would probably have more support.

Both supporters and opponents of RTW agree that if the issue were to make it to the ballot instead of move through the legislature — where a veto from Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is all but assured — it would likely make 2014 far more expensive campaign season and almost certainly increase turnout for both parties.