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TWMP Column: House Caucus Recap

The discussion of Dean

The house met for their winter caucus yesterday and while discussing several priorities for next session, many of which are hold overs from last session they of course discussed the controversies surrounding Speaker Plocher and some of the policies and procedures the house operates with.

According to several sources Plocher owned his mistakes with his expense reports. He apologized for giving his enemies fodder to attack him with, and for members having to spend their time answering questions about the controversy.   While no one spoke up and directly called for his resignation his detractors began with Rep. Ben Baker who had a pretty aggressive attack on the Speaker, but stopped short of calling for his resignation. 

That was followed by some fairly middle of the road, but critical statements by Reps. West, Lovasco, Chappell, and a couple others. All were critical and implied Plocher should resign, but no one actually stepped forward to call for it out loud. 

There was a very interesting analogy made in regards to the expense accounts. Currently every legislative day each member receives a per diem  to pay for their expenses of lodging, meals, etc. 

Well, every member has had a meal during session paid for by a campaign account those same days. 

Every. Single. Member. 

So if each member cashes a per diem check on the same day they eat a meal paid for by a campaign account, how did they not double dip that day?

The meeting had died down and the portion about the speaker was ending when Rep. Doug Richey launched into a  lengthy full scale attack on the speaker. 

It wasn’t a short speech, in fact it went on so long that it was brought to an end by Rep. Hardy Billington telling him, “that’s enough”.

Then Rep. Tara Peters, a freshman legislator, gave a speech ending Richey and Baker’s attacks that was met with a standing ovation from the caucus. 

After the ovation finally ended, the drama ended, and the meeting went back to discussing next session. 

If I had to guess, 90% of the caucus is still with Plocher. Approximately, 30% of that 90% want to see what the ethics committee comes up with before making a final judgement on the matter. 

That could change with two things: 1) If Plocher loses the support of Majority Leader Jon Patterson, or 2) another ethical issue surfaces. 

If something else were to surface I think the caucus would be annoyed enough and to move on from Plocher. If nothing else significant emerges then this probably dies down. 

I had Reps. Jamie Burger, Chad Perkins, Chris Brown, and Dane Diehl on the show this week right after caucus. 

Here are their takes on Plocher and the caucus meeting here.

Who works for who?

Another issue raised in caucus that came from the current controversy is that in addition to the house rules each session they add a series of procedures that govern the administration of the house. 

Some member are now questioning whether their staff works for them, or for the House Clerk. There is a large movement among members in both parties to clear up any ambiguity that each member’s staff works for the member not the bureaucracy. 

Jetton as Chief of Staff

It was also announced that Former House Speaker Rod Jetton was returning to the house as Plocher’s new chief of staff. 

The reaction from the left was what you would expect. Now, Im just a simple hillbilly, but it’s almost like the person he replaced was a top notch source for the left’s news outlets… Maybe there is another reason for the overly emotional backlash, but Im a skeptical hillbilly. 

You can expect Rod will be loyal to his boss, provided that when the house reviews its rules who is boss even is. If the house decides that the speaker’s chief of staff actually works for the speaker he has the talents to do the one thing Plocher needs more than anything else to move forward from this: formulate a plan and execute it. 

Is Quade competitive now?

A poll was released by Show Me Victories shows Rep. Crystal Quade within striking distance of Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, and actually leading Senator Bill Eigel. 

Democrat Crystal Quade 33%
Republican Mike Kehoe 38%
Undecided 29%

Democrat Crystal Quade 34%
Republican Jay Ashcroft 39%
Undecided 27%

Democrat Crystal Quade 34%
Republican Bill Eigel 33%
Undecided 32%

Rep. Quade is undoubtedly the most talented democrat running statewide, and probably the only one running that could give any of the republicans a run for their money. 

Whether these numbers are or not the Crystal Quade who is the super talented, charismatic, Obama like politician who can relate to anyone in this state can be competitive if the national environment gives her the opportunity. 

If she is the shrill Hillary Clinton like politician her comments yesterday would indicate who can’t really relate to anyone outside I70, much less 270, then these numbers are a mirage.

Judicial Panel is in 

The panel for the Eastern District Court of Appeals vacancy is in. Its includes: Judge Virginia Lay, Judge Rebecca Navarro-McKelvey, and Susan Petersen. 

My hillbilly instincts again tell me that Judge Lay is the favorite, but there is no question that Judge Rebecca Navarro-McKelvey is a star who will be on future panels and is a top candidate to one day be on the Supreme Court. 

Elijah Haahr fully back in the game

I was very glad to see former Speaker Elijah Haahr is fully back in the political game. For some time he has been hosting an afternoon drive radio show in Springfield, but now he is taking clients as a political consutlant. He has already put together a signifigant book including Jay Ashcorft and Adam Schwadron.

He will be a great pick up for any candidate.