Governor Blunt’s decision not to run for re-election affected the legislative session, but exactly how is a matter of debate among legislative leaders.
"It changes the landscape considerably when the incumbent decides not to run for re-election," says Senate Minority Flood Leader Maida Coleman (D-St. Louis).
Coleman agrees with Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons (R-Kirkwood) who says Blunt’s decision took some of the partisanship out of the session. Gibbons reasons that if Blunt had stayed in the race for governor, the session would have largely boiled down to Republicans pushing his agenda to aid his re-election bid. Gibbons says Democrats would have alternated between bashing the governor during floor speeches and working to push legislation that could improve the chances of Democrat Jay Nixon, the state Attorney General, taking the governor’s office.
House Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt (R-Blue Springs) dismisses talk that Blunt’s decision, which came early in the session, had much of an impact. Pratt says despite the decision, the legislature approved immigration reform, property tax reform, economic development and mortgage fraud.
"If you look at what we have accomplished this session," says Pratt, "You’ll see that the fact that Governor Blunt chose not to run did not have an impact on our priorities this session."
Yet, House Minority Floor Leader Paul LeVota (D-Independence) asserts Blunt’s decision to drop out set the session adrift.
"It’s one thing to say, ‘I’m not going to run again’," says LeVota, "but not providing the leadership that was needed made it the do-nothing legislature"