Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Taking the low road to the governor's office

(Note: The following post is my column for this week's Newton County News.)

A message to Sarah Steelman and Kenny Hulshof- You’re no Bill Webster and Roy Blunt.
I have heard this year’s race for the Republican nomination for governor compared to the infamous 1992 GOP bloodbath, but as a reporter who covered the ’92 race, I can tell you, this year’s race is just a pale imitation.
Yes, the 1992 race featured plenty of negative advertising, much of it coming from Roy Blunt, but it was substantive advertising based on real ethical problems that Bill Webster had. If Blunt had been given one more week before the primary, his momentum may well have carried him past Webster and saved the GOP a resounding defeat. Instead, Mel Carnahan, considered by some to be a sacrificial lamb to Webster, was able to use the material from Blunt’s advertisements to win the race and eventually Webster landed in a federal prison.
What have Mrs. Steelman and Hulshof given voters hungry for substance? Viagra.
Thanks to Mrs. Steelman, we know that Kenny Hulshof cast a vote that included funding for Viagra through Medicare. Thanks to Hulshof we know Mrs. Steel man voted for Viagra for prisoners when she was in the Senate.
Neither bothered to mention that those votes were not as simplistic as the ads made them sound. That would be letting the truth get in the way of good old attack advertising.
We also have the odd situation of the Republicans having the incumbent governor, but neither candidate wanting to be too closely linked with his record. The circumstances surrounding the sudden departure of Matt Blunt from the race have still not been explained in any satisfactory fashion. Blunt announced he would not seek a second term, claiming he had accomplished everything he wanted to do in his first four years. I would love to have a look at what his original goals looked like. Talk about setting the bar low.
In fact, whichever candidate emerges to face Attorney General Jay Nixon in November, whether it is Hulshof or Mrs. Steel man, should benefit from not being too closely connected with the governor.
Had the Republicans chosen someone like Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder or Speaker of the House Rod Jetton, the woes that surround Blunt could have been convincing campaign issues.
As it is, it will be nearly impossible for Democrats to connect Sarah Steel man or Kenny Hulshof with the infamous license fee office for sale scandal, with the current misuse and probable destruction of e-mails, or with the 2005 decisions which removed thousands of people from Medicaid eligibility.
It would be nice if the general election became a referendum on the leadership abilities and positions on the issues of Jay Nixon and whomever the Republicans nominate.
It would be nice, but I am not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen. Sad to say, we may reach a point sometime in October when we long for the good old days when the candidates discussed substantive issues like Viagra.

For those who want to relive the 1992 governor's race, several chapters from the book version of The Turner Report are devoted to that race. More information about the book can be found at this link.


Anonymous said...

Hulshof is the pick of the Blunt machine. That's enough for Steelman to get my vote.

Anonymous said...

Hulshof is the pick of Peter Herschend, he had a "showing" at the Branson Landing for his man Hulshof. Therefore, he has been bought and paid for by the Land of Herschend.

Its funny that ole Pete has spent his republican money on Hulshof and he doesnt stand a chance of being elected.

When Nixon is elected Ole Pete will probably say ....Well I supported him all along, I just didn't feel right doing it publicly...

Anonymous said...

This column is oddly close to one that ran last week in the News-Leader:

Consider that in the past month Hulshof and Steelman, through spokespeople, have traded attacks over:

1) Who's most pro-life 2) Who's the biggest stem-cell hypocrite 3) Who should have done more years ago to stop Medicare and Medicaid patients from getting Viagra 4) The bridge to nowhere in Alaska and 5) Does Hulshof have enough "courage" to fight his own battles?

There's been little true debate over issues important to Missourians. Where do you find the time?

When we lauded these two prior to the mudslinging, we noted that presidential campaigning last year and earlier this year has shown that voters respect messages of substance and frown on the art of the attack.

Hulshof and Steelman, especially Steelman as the apparent instigator in these convoluted frays, do not seem to see that.

Of course, we are not asking that skeletons stay in closets or mistakes remain hidden. A vigorous race is good for everyone.

This one is not that.

It's embarrassing.

At the risk of seeming naive, we'll try our call for civility again. Repeating some words from this space in February:

"Voters are tired of negativity. We're tired of attacks. We are Americans first, Republicans and Democrats second.

"Our leaders should remember that."

woodsba said...

The Governors race has turned into a terrible joke on the citizens of our great state and a sad commentary on what the two major political parties have to offer.

What do any of them have to offer?

Anonymous said...

Woodsba, you are correct. An Attorney General that wants to be Guv, and doesn't know he is not suppose to campaign in the state car.

Really on top of things isn't he?

Anonymous said...

Sarah Steelman was a state Senator, not rep, from Rolla.

Randy said...

Thanks for refreshing my memory. I will correct the post.