A state representative known for crossing party lines has decided his second term will be his last, at least for now.
Many who follow Missouri politics will remember Keith English (I-Florissant) for last year casting the vote that overturned Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) veto of tax cut legislation that Democrats say threatens the state’s budget and programs, and Republican backers say will leave more of Missourians’ hard-earned money in their own hands.
English, then a Democrat, said the heat he got from voting with Republicans on that divisive issue has nothing to do with his decision not to seek another term.
“People thought that was going to hurt me in the election and my numbers were still pretty close to the same,” said English.
He also said his decision to switch from Democrat to Independent just over two months after winning reelection also doesn’t factor into his decision.
Instead, English said, he saw an opportunity to step away from politics for a time with his new wife..
“I made the announcement early enough so that those candidates that were interested in running … had an opportunity to raise money,” said English. “As you know it’s a necessary evil in this world – to raise funds.”
English said he has been approached about taking a position, “in Jefferson City,” but is not saying what that is. He also doesn’t say whether he’ll finish out his term or resign some time before it expires.
“I would venture to say that I’ll just step away for a minute and watch and see what happens next year,” said English.
English was known for voting with Republicans on many issues, including those regarding abortion and gun rights. One thing he never sides with them on, however, is “right-to-work.” English, an IBEW electrician, Local 1, has spoken against the issue during his three years in the Missouri House. He doesn’t think it’s likely to come up again in 2016 after backers couldn’t come close to overriding Governor Nixon’s veto of it this year.
“You’ve got a lot of state reps that are running like Caleb Jones, Caleb Rowden, a few other state reps – Anne Zerr running for Senate, and that’s such a controversial issue when it comes to the polls that I can’t see them bringing that up,” said English.
He does predict “right-to-work” will become law in 2017, “if the Republicans take on more seats or if some of the men and women that voted against it lose their seats,” in the 2016 elections, but he thinks Democrats will fare well in those.
“It’s going to be a, I believe, a Democratic swing year in 2016 with Attorney General Chris Koster (D) at the top of the ballot,” said English, referring to the only Democratic candidate, to date, for Governor.
Some other things English had to say in his interview with Missourinet:
He was married to Kelly June 19th in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
He believes to win his district, a candidate will have to vote along the same lines he did – pro-labor, pro-life, pro-gun.
He believes abortion issues will capture some attention in the coming legislative session. English stresses his pro-life position, saying that stems from his former spouse choosing to terminate a pregnancy. “That shown a lot of light that I think that men should have a choice along with their spouse at making that decision to bring life into this world,” he told Missourinet.
Proposals he plans to offer in his final session include a tax exemption for volunteer firefighters, and naming 270 through Florissant for Rosemary Davison, a historian in the community who died last year.
English describes a few Democrats as still having a “chip on their shoulder,” regarding his decision to leave the caucus and the votes he took while in it. He believes the majority of House Republicans consider him trustworthy, “unlike the minority floor leader [Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis)]. He and I have butted heads.”
He plans to help in several campaigns, referring specifically to those of Senator Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit) for Secretary of State and Senator Mike Parson for Lieutenant Governor. He said he’s going to watch how the field for governor unfolds, but said, “Christ Koster should win.”
Missourians might also remember English for promoting and taking part in the “I-70 Grudge Match,” featuring a bout between himself a David Tate of Mexico (click here for video), and a “special feature fight” between Reps. Glen Kolkmeyer and John Mayfield (click here for that video).