The Kansas City Star ran an article about Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich who is running for Governor on the ‘Pub ticket. I’ve met him a few times, heard him speak and was generally impressed. However, if the Red Star’s quotes of him are accurate, I would have a hard time voting for him.
The article is written by Steve Kraske, a well-known rabid liberal who has, on occasion, fled far from the truth. Given his reputation, I’m accepting this article with a large grain of salt while I wait for Schweich to comment on it.
As Tom Schweich launches his bid for the 2016 GOP gubernatorial nomination, he’s doing so as an outspoken critic of much of what the Missouri Republican Party has become.
And yet, he needs GOP votes.
The party, Schweich says, is dominated by one man, the wealthy party benefactor Rex Sinquefield.
It’s beholden to other special interests, too, and has often not acted on behalf of the vast majority of Missourians.
Party leaders have flaunted ethics laws, Schweich insisted, and he reels off several examples. “It’s like Ethics 101,” he said during his quick stop in Kansas City last week when he rolled out his campaign.
They’ve threatened to go too far with tax cuts, and the GOP has picked up a reputation as a “mean party,” Schweich said.
“What I’m seeing from my party is not good,” he said.
Tough talk, to be sure. But is this the way to curry favor with his fellow Republicans?
Schweich is gambling that rank-and-file Republicans are fed up, too, and that he will contrast favorably with his GOP primary opponent, Catherine Hanaway, a former House speaker who has received more than $900,000 in donations from Sinquefield.
But these days, evidence that Republicans are frustrated is tough to find.
The GOP is sustaining record majorities in the General Assembly. They control six of eight congressional seats and believe they’ve got a great chance to pick up statewide seats in 2016.
And lawmakers report a dearth of phone calls from constituents when it comes to concerns over Sinquefield and the state’s standing as the only one in America that permits unlimited campaign donations and unlimited lobbyist gifts.
Still, when voters have been asked to crack down on lawmakers through term limits or low-dollar strict campaign donations, they’ve done so in overwhelming numbers.
And Schweich himself has taken big money from other mega GOP donors, including former Ambassador Sam Fox.
Schweich rightly points out that his job as state auditor presents a strong platform from which to base a gubernatorial candidacy. Example 1A is Claire McCaskill, now a two-term state senator. Schweich can talk a lot about rooting out inefficiency and corruption and cracking down on wayward city and county governments all over the state.
But last week, he kept coming back to a single theme, and that is the lost-in-the-wilderness modern-day Missouri Republican Party.
“I don’t like the direction the…party is going now,” he said.
Will his fellow Republicans agree?
By the end of the article, I’m a bit unsure who Kraske is attacking? Schweich, Sinquefield, Missouri’s open campaign contribution laws, or those nasty, mean, unrepentant republicans in general. Regardless, he has quotes from Schweich that if accurate, draws questions on Schweich’s run for Governor.
Today is a big day for Right-to-Work advocates. They will be heading to Jeff City for a RTW hearing on HB 116, sponsored by Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, and HB 46, HB 47, HB 48, and HB 69, sponsored by Bill Lant, R-Pineville.
This year there is something new! Some democrats are talking about voting for or are sponsoring some Right-to-Work bills, too. One democrat, Representative Courtney Curtis, has sponsored such a bill, HB 582. It’s a soft bill, of course, but it is still a loosening of the rigid, pro-Union stance democrats have held for nearly a century.
When it comes to having a “big tent” for its members, Missouri Democrats have talked the talk – and walked the walk.
After all, the Missouri Democratic Party has included state lawmakers who vote against abortion rights and gun laws; such legislators have even run for state Senate and congressional seats. And the party appears poised to nominate for governor Attorney General Chris Koster, who opposes campaign donation limits.
But state Rep. Courtney Curtis may be testing his party’s permissiveness by sponsoring so-called “right to work” legislation for construction unions. Curtis says the bill is “drawing the line in the sand.”
“The question really is: Are we a big tent party or not?” Curtis, D-Berkeley, said in an interview. “If we are, then you know there is room for a person like me. But the reason I’m doing it is because one of the other tenets of the party is equality and fighting for it.”
Curtis introduced a bill and a constitutional amendment late last month that would, among other things, no longer make paying dues to a construction union a condition of employment. While it’s not unusual for lawmakers to propose “right to work” legislation, it is for a Democrat like Curtis to sponsor such a measure – especially since organized labor is such a mainstay in the Missouri Democratic Party.
Curtis’ bill appears to be an offshoot of the lingering frustration between African-American political leaders and labor unions in the St. Louis area. Last year saw fierce – and often hostile – battles on the St. Louis County Council over legislation to expand the availability of contracts to minorities and women.
During that debate, Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City, and then-St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley contended it was difficult for African-Americans and women to break into the building trades. Curtis emphasized his bill is “not about spilt milk. It’s about opportunities going forward.”
But he minced no words about the bill’s desired impact: “It would hopefully cripple the building trades.”
“It is a ‘right-to-work’ bill. But I’m calling it Workforce Opportunity Improvement,” Curtis said. For “minorities within the unions that aren’t getting a fair shake, (it) would give them better opportunities potentially. And for the individuals that are minorities outside of unions, it would give them better opportunities to participate in the workforce. They currently don’t have that.” The article continues at the web site.
As expected, the unions are all up in arms, especially the construction unions who have been so proliferate with their contributions to various democrat candidates. “Labor is up in arms about it. [Construction unions are] already starting their marketing campaign that if this happens to us, it’s going to happen to everybody else,” said a union spokesman.
Perhaps democrats, at least some of them, see the declining union membership numbers and realize that unions are fading slowly away and will soon follow those extinct species like the Dodo, Great Auk and the Giant Moa. It can’t happen too soon. Our economy can no longer support parasites like those unions have become.
Today is Groundhog Day. “Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most beloved and furry seasonal prognosticator, saw his shadow on Monday morning (despite overcast skies), portending six more weeks of winter, “ sayeth the Washington Post.
Let’s remember that Groundhogs are varmints and it’s open season on varmints.