February 1, 2015

Luetkemeyer downplays run for Missouri governor in 2016

Two Republicans are now running for their party’s nomination to be the candidate for Missouri Governor in 2016. East-Central Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-St. Robert) is downplaying the possibility he will be a third.

Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-St. Elizabeth) fields questions from the media about the sharing of concealed carry information with the Social Security Administration.

Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-St. Elizabeth)

Luetkemeyer says as he has earned more seniority in Washington D.C. it is becoming more appealing to stay there.

“At this point it looks like we will probably run for reelection again in two years,” Luetkemeyer told Missourinet affiliate KWIX in Moberly.

Luetkemeyer notes he is now the chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, as well as a member of the House Financial Services Committee and the House Small Business Committee.

State Auditor Tom Schweich announced this week he is a candidate for governor, running against former Missouri House Speaker and U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway.

Lawmaker who left Missouri House Democrats says more could follow

The lawmaker that left the Missouri House Democratic Caucus this week says he wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t the last.

Representative Keith English (center) was sworn in on January 7 as a Democrat from Florissant, but has announced today he is switching to an Independent.  (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Keith English (center) was sworn in on January 7 as a Democrat from Florissant, but has announced today he is switching to an Independent. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Keith English (Florissant) switched parties this week from Democrat to Independent. He is the second representative to leave the House Democrats since the November election.

English says he thinks there could be more.

“The lack of leadership across the board and willingness to work with the small group of 45 that we had was very apparent,” English accuses. “The progressive side doesn’t want to hear the moderates.”

English says other House Democrats have made statements similar to his own.

“The Democrats are not the Democratic party that we’ve grown up to love. 60’s and 70’s Democrats, we’re not there anymore,” English said.

He says he left the party because he was being punished for voting with Republicans. House Democrats say he had broken caucus rules and was not trustworthy.

Earlier stories: 

Another lawmaker leaves Missouri House Democrats

Missouri House members react to Keith English’s party switch

Nixon says could, doesn’t want to, go it alone on stadium bonds

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) says acting without the approval of the legislature to pay for a new NFL stadium in St. Louis is a possibility, but suggests it’s not the route he wants to take.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon smiles to the gallery before delivering the annual State of the State address at the state capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri on January 21, 2015.    Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon smiles to the gallery before delivering the annual State of the State address at the state capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri on January 21, 2015. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Republican lawmakers have expressed alarm this week at the Nixon Administration’s assessment that it could act without the legislature to extend the current bonds on the Rams’ stadium in St. Louis to pay at least part of the cost–as much as $350-million–of a new NFL stadium.

“Which I think is atrocious,” Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) told Missourinet.

Governor Nixon told reporters Thursday that is a possibility.

“That could be one of the options, but clearly those aren’t things you just do without remaining in contact with folks and working your way through those issues,” Nixon said.

Nixon said he wants to keep other elected officials involved, “not only folks at the state level but also local folks … It’s important that we protect taxpayers but that we do what we can to remain an NFL city. I look forward to working with a lot of policy makers at a lot of levels to have a unified approach.”

Nixon added, “This is going to require a team effort for us to be competitive.”

One Senate Republican has proposed a law to require legislative approval on a bond extension of more than 50-million dollars, while others are seeking the Attorney General’s interpretation of whether the administration could extend bonds without lawmakers.

The leader of the House’s Republican supermajority, Speaker John Diehl, Junior, (R-Town and Country) in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch did not criticize the assessment that the administration could extend those bonds on its own. Diehl told the Dispatch it is a “hypothetical” scenario that didn’t merit a response.

Earlier story:  Lawmakers bristle at idea Missouri could spend on new stadium without them

Schweich enters 2016 race for Missouri governor

State Auditor Tom Schweich has announced he is challenging former Missouri House Speaker and U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway for the Republican nomination for Missouri governor in 2016.

State Auditor Tom Schweich

State Auditor Tom Schweich

St. Louis Public Radio’s Joe Mannies reported his announcement on Twitter.

His announcement ends months of speculation about his political future. Schweich has been viewed for some time as a likely candidate for Governor but had declined to announce his plans until after the November, 2014 election.

He becomes the second Republican to declare candidacy for the 2016 governor’s race after Hanaway. Each have more than $1-million in their respective campaign funds. The only Democrat to announce candidacy for governor is Attorney General Chris Koster, who as of October listed more than $2.6-million on hand.

Schweich has been auditor since 2010 and won his second term in that office last year without Democratic opposition.

In recent years he has been credited as running an efficient and effective auditor’s office, but has also been criticized by Democrats for his legal challenges against Governor Nixon.

Hanaway preempted Schweich’s announcement by issuing a statement criticizing him for setting up a Republican primary for governor in 2016, saying primaries, “have repeatedly cost the Republican Party statewide elections.”

Missouri House members react to Keith English’s party switch

The latest lawmaker to leave the Missouri House Democratic caucus says he was being punished for votes, but his former caucus colleagues say they couldn’t trust him.

Representative Keith English (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Keith English (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Keith English (Florissant) told Missourinet he has had a speech written for “weeks” to announce his decision to leave the Democratic party and become an Independent.

He said he has been punished by his former caucus ever since casting the lone Democrat vote to overturn Governor Nixon’s veto of an income tax cut bill last year.  That began, he said, with being removed from committees by the House Democrat leadership.

“That carried on through the summer when I was asked by the minority leader’s [Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis City] office if I wanted to sit on committees and I said ‘yes,’ and there was multiple committees that multiple people from the Democratic Caucus had sat on. I didn’t get that opportunity to sit on any committees,” English said.

House Democrats say English was untrustworthy and had broken caucus rules, including one that prevents taking any “perks” from the Republican majority, such as office space. English has accepted an office on the third floor of the Capitol, just outside the House Chamber.

Representative Jeremy LaFaver (D-Kansas City) told Missourinet English’s move was not a surprise and said the caucus was considering kicking him out anyway.

“Some people said that we’re losing a member of the Democratic caucus and my statement is, ‘You can’t lose something that was never a part of your team anyway,'” LaFaver said.

In a statement, Hummel denies that the caucus’ issues with English stem from him, “sometimes voting with the other political party.”

Hummel wrote, “As a caucus, we recognize and respect our differences of opinion and encourage members to vote their consciences and their districts. Rather, the distrust in Representative English stems from the fact that he hasn’t always been honest about his intentions to side with Republicans on issues of importance to House Democrats.”

Hummel closed his statement by implying that English won’t win re-election in his district now that he’s switched parties. “House Democrats wish him nothing but the best during his final term as state representative,” Hummel wrote. English is only his in second term and could run again in 2016.

English thinks he’ll be “fine” running as an Independent, and said he has had success doing so in local races before running for the House.

The Legislative Black Caucus also issued a statement accusing English of making “racially charged” statements, including a Twitter post suggesting that Ferguson protesters need to follow a map to Mexico, and saying he made a comment Monday in the House Democratic Caucus that “Michael Brown ‘should have known not to be in the street.'”

English told Missourinet he would not comment on what was said in caucus except to say that it should stay in caucus.

He said he is asking the House Republican Majority to put him on committees and said he hopes to caucus, “where the issues come up.”  He also expects to get a different seat on the House Floor.  His current desk is among House Democrats.

House Speaker John Diehl, Junior (R-Town and Country), issued a statement of his own calling English a, “friend and colleague who has proven time and time again that he will put partisan politics aside to vote his conscience and his district.”

Diehl continued, “It was disappointing to see him punished by his caucus for supporting a tax cut that is in the best interests of the people he was elected to serve. By cutting him out of the process, his own caucus not only stifled his voice, but all the voices of the families and businesses in his district.

As Speaker of the House I am committed to working with all 163 members of the House regardless of party affiliation. I am ready and willing to work with Rep. English to ensure he is an active and effective participant in the legislative process so that the people of his district will continue to have capable representation here in the State Capitol.”