Archive for the ‘Right to Work’ Category

Peter Kinder is most electable choice for MO governor

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

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.

RTW: A conservative ‘bridge too far’

Missouri legislators are proposing to enact a “right to work” law, which would prohibit closed union shops. This is an unusual situation where good policy is bad politics.

 

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Don’t get me wrong. RTW would be good public policy, and very good for the Missouri economy, especially jobs. Economic growth in the U.S., where it exists, is primarily taking place in states with RTW laws, some of which border Missouri and attract our jobs. Aside from RTW’s economic benefits, relieving unwilling workers of the obligation to pay union dues to fund political causes that many of them oppose is the right thing to do. (Even in the Democrat landslide of 2008, over a third of all union members voted for Republican John McCain.)

 

Unfortunately, this is a case where good policy will predictably produce an electoral backlash that will have both short- and long-term negative implications for conservative policy. Enacting the law will require a vote of the people, and a vote on RTW in a general election would hand Democrats an opportunity to exploit it to ramp up turnout of otherwise unmotivated government-dependent folks who vote straight Democrat when they bother to vote. Democrats have a long history of using controversial ballot measures to manipulate turnout. Years ago, when Republicans were still somewhat competitive in the City of St. Louis, Democrats would repeatedly use meaningless ballot measures about reopening Homer G. Phillips Hospital to gin up the reliably Democratic African American vote. Last year, California Democrats used a ballot measure to legalize marijuana to get reliably Democrat but rarely voting stoners to the polls. The stoners made California a Democrat firewall against the 2010 Republican wave, saving Barbara Boxer’s senate seat, retaking the governorship and reelecting every vulnerable Democrat congressman, while the rest of the country was a sea of red. (And since the ballot measure itself lost, they can do it again!)

 

The relevant Missouri precedent is 1978, the last time a RTW proposal was on the Missouri ballot. 1978 was setting up to be a Republican year much like 2010. Both 1978 and 2010 were the GOP off-year rebounds following both big off-year losses four years prior (1974 and 2006) and subsequent losses of the White House (1976 and 2008), followed by voter remorse and outrage over failing leftist presidencies (Carter and Obama). But this remorse and outrage was short-circuited in Missouri, where the RTW issue woke up complacent union bosses. They registered thousands of new voters in union households, and their “Right to Work is a Ripoff” campaign was so popular and so pervasive, you still see old clunkers bearing that campaign’s 33-year-old “RIPOFF” bumper stickers.

 

A RTW supporter has tried to undermine these facts by destroying a straw man. In an op-ed piece in the liberal St. Louis Beacon, Bruce Hillis seized on careless hyperbole from aging former Sen. Kit Bond stating that the 1978 RTW proposal had “wiped out every single Republican from top to bottom.” That, of course, was clearly exaggeration, and Hillis pounced on it, pointing out that the GOP had in fact lost “only” five of its state house seats that year.

 

But the “straw man” of Bond’s hyperbole is not the relevant comparison. It makes more sense to compare Missouri’s 1978 results with what could and likely would have happened that year in the absence of RTW on the ballot.

 

Let’s first place Missouri in 1978 in proper context. The relatively small number of Republican lost seats was due to how few Republican seats were there to be lost, following the Democrat blowouts in post-Watergate 1974 and the victories of Democrats Jimmy Carter and “Walkin’ Joe” Teasdale in 1976 (when even Bond himself lost reelection). Seven of Missouri’s 10 seats in Congress were held by Democrats heading into 1978, including three by freshmen. Democrats then held a 22-12 majority in the Missouri senate and a 112-51 super-majority in the house.

 

The electoral disaster was the blown opportunity for Republican gains. With all of those pickup opportunities in an election that Republicans were sweeping everywhere else, RTW-impaired Missouri Republicans picked up no seats in congress (not even the vulnerable freshman Democrat in the 2nd District seat now safely held by Republican Todd Akin), no seats in the state senate and actually lost five more state house seats. In contrast, in the similar national political landscape in 2010, Missouri Republicans knocked off 34-year Congressman Ike Skelton (ironically one of the freshmen left unscathed in 1978) and gained 17 Missouri house seats, even though there were already 38 fewer Democrat house seats available to pick off.

 

That, Mr. Hillis, is the relevant comparison, and yes, 1978 was indeed a Republican electoral disaster. Unlike most of Missouri’s current legislators, who were too young to pay attention to politics (if even born) in 1978, I lived through that disaster. I recruited a legislative candidate in a swing district and spent so much time managing his campaign that it cost me my real job near the end of the campaign. The Democrat blowout wasted all of it.

 

More is at stake in 2012 than in 1978. It is absolutely essential that Missouri cast its 10 electoral votes to oust Barack Obama, and that Missouri maintain its GOP congressional delegation and its majorities in the General Assembly. RTW on the ballot will make those essential goals much more challenging. There will be another time, when a Republican governor can put a RTW proposal harmlessly on a primary ballot (just like Democratic Gov. Bob Holden deflected the impact of the “marriage definition” ballot measure in 2004). But if the legislature passes RTW in this session, Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon will put it on the general election ballot, to insure his own reelection and the broader success of his party.

 

Union backlash may be foreign to Mr. Hillis in the comfort of his idyllic conservative small town in Mexico, Missouri, but here among volatile swing voters in metropolitan St. Louis, it means a lot. I felt the pain in 1978, and I don’t want to experience it again. While RTW is the right thing to do, the right thing to do now is to wait. The 2012 election and its impact on the nation’s future are at stake.