The Republican caucus of the Missouri House is meeting today in Kansas City to start planning for the upcoming veto session. But four of them are likely to have some things to say. We hear from two of them today; the other two on Monday.
They are the four who beat billionaire Rex Sinquefield’s candidates who were chosen to take them out. Sinquefield wanted them to enact a tax cut over the Governor’s veto last year and they had not voted his way. He and his political committee, the Club for Growth spent a half-million dollars trying to beat them. All four have nothing good to say about the Club for Growth, although they are not as harsh in their comments about Sinquefield. However they say it’s time he became concerned about the people he has put in charge of that operation.
Representative Paul Fitzwater of Potosi admits hard feelings. “I’m kind of bitter,” he says.
Kirksville Representative Nate Walker withstood the heaviest financial assault and although “it was an ugly, brutal type campaign. But we stood up and we won.”
Fitzwater says it is clear what Sinquefield was trying to do, and it’s something voters cannot allow—buying seats in the legislature. “They just can’t come down here and flash their money and think they can buy a seat,” he says. “And that’s what they tried to do. They tried to buy, not one, but four Missouri House seats.”
Walker voiced the same concern, but from a different angle: “When you get too much money from one particular interest group, then the perception is–and maybe the truth is–you’re going to be pretty heavily influenced and maybe not be your own person.”
Fitzwater thinks the elections pointedly emphasize the dangers of a well-heeled special interest getting control of Missouri’s political system. “If we don’t stand up to these special interest groups like this and let them run over us like they’ve been trying to do, why do we have a legislature? Why do we have it?”
House Speaker Tim Jones has boasted of having 110 House Republicans after Tuesday, more than needed for veto overrides. But whether he has 110 votes is up for discussion after the four threatened Representatives won this week.
We’ll have comments from the other two victors, Representatives Jeffrey Messenger and Lyle Rowland, Monday.