You wouldn’t know it from all the negative ads, but the Republican primary for Missouri governor offers four excellent, conservative choices to succeed lame duck Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon. Early on, I settled on Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder as my likely first choice, followed closely by former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway. Former Navy Seal (and former Democrat) Eric Greitens has the support of many conservatives whose opinions I respect. Businessman John Brunner rubs me the wrong way, but I would still happily support him in the general election if he wins the primary. All of them would be better than likely Democrat nominee, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, an insincere and opportunistic former Republican and Nixon protege.
I had leaned to Kinder because he was both a proven conservative and a proven winner. He repeatedly earned his conservative chops by having the Tea Party’s back when others shied away. That’s why St. Louis Tea Party Coalition co-founder Dana Loesch (now a television personality for Glenn Beck’s The Blaze) has endorsed Kinder and recorded radio ads for him. Rush Limbaugh’s endorsement is also a plus, but partially explained by his and Kinder’s childhood friendship in Cape Girardeau. Kinder (like Hanaway and Brunner but not Greitens) is endorsed by Missouri Right to Life. The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (click “Statewide” tab) endorsed no gubernatorial candidate, but rated Kinder highest at A+. (Hanaway’s record earned her an A (not the D rating claimed by one false negative ad), while Brunner and Greitens, who have no elective record, got the AQ rating based on their questionnaires.)
Some question Kinder’s character because of a well publicized photograph of him with an exotic dancer with whom he had a brief relationship, but Kinder was not married or otherwise in a committed relationship, so that shouldn’t matter. There were also some questionable hotel expenditures billed to the state early in his tenure as lieutenant governor, but he reimbursed the state completely and has not repeated the practice since. In 2012, both Republican primary challenger, State Sen. Brad Lager, and Democrat general election foe, former State Auditor Susan Montee, pounded Kinder with negative ads on both matters, but Kinder defeated both challengers. The general election win was especially impressive, because Kinder overcame not just the formidable Montee but also a third-party challenge on the right from former Missouri House Minority Whip Cynthia Davis. Kinder’s win was also notable because he won while every other statewide Republican candidate (except Presidential nominee Mitt Romney) lost. Kinder is a proven general election winner.
Today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch published the details of a professional Mason-Dixon poll taken July 23-24, which confirm my expectations of Kinder’s general election strength. The headline shows that Kinder, while running fourth, is nevertheless within the margin of error for the win, with 17% still undecided. Buried on the inside page, though, were important trial heats against Koster.While Koster led all four Republicans in a poll skewed Democratic (see below), he led Kinder by just a single point, while Brunner lost by 6, Hanaway by 16 and Greitens by an astounding 22 points. This has to be sobering for Greitens supporters like my friend Bill Hennessy, who have touted Greitens as the only Republican likely to beat Koster. It must also be sobering for Democrats who, in coordination with the Koster campaign, have just spent around a million dollars trashing Greitens with ads that mostly ran after the poll was taken.
The poll also sampled favorability ratings, with Kinder on top with net favorability (favorable minus unfavorable) of +20, followed by Brunner (+10), Hanaway (+5) and Greitens (-3). Kinder was the only one to top Koster (+17).
It should be noted that both the trial heats and favorability ratings were skewed against all Republicans, because the sample was evenly divided between likely Republican and Democrat primary voters, apparently with no true independents. Since 2000, the actual November electorate has been much more Republican.
The past four years have demonstrated the importance of electability. Republican majorities in both houses of the General Assembly have passed landmark conservative reforms which Democrat Nixon vetoed. While Republicans were able to override some vetoes, vetoes of other key legislation, like right-to-work, stood. Maintaining two-thirds majorities is difficult and unreliable; getting a like-minded governor to sign legislation passed with just a simple majority is easier and more reliable. But you don’t get a principled Republican governor unless he defeats Koster.
I endorse Peter Kinder for Missouri Governor.