For an insight as to why the GOP is down and out in Washington, take a look at Jefferson City. That's where Sarah Steelman, the state treasurer, is running in an Aug. 5 primary for the Missouri governorship. And it's where her reform campaign against earmarks and self-dealing is threatening the entrenched status quo, causing her own party to rise against her.
So bitter are House Minority Whip Roy Blunt and Sen. Kit Bond at Ms. Steelman's attack on their cherished spending beliefs that last month they rallied the entire Missouri congressional delegation to put out a public statement openly criticizing her campaign against six-term U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof. Joining them in their support of Mr. Hulshof has been the vast majority of the state Republican machine. Ms. Steelman is clearly doing something right. ...
Ms. Steelman's Republican colleagues were livid with her attempt to strip them of comfy pensions, annoyed with her "sunshine law" requiring them to be more open in their dealings, furious at her attacks on their ethanol boondoggles, appalled that she criticized GOP state Speaker Rod Jetton for moonlighting as a paid political consultant. The final straw was her temerity to make her primary race about her opponent's Washington earmarking record.
For Mr. Blunt, this is also just a wee bit personal. His son, Matt, is the outgoing governor, and has been on the receiving end of a few Treasurer Steelman blasts. Last year she stopped payment on a $70,000 secret check his administration cut to settle a sexual harassment suit against an official. Her demand for transparency blew the case into the open, infuriating GOP colleagues. ...
Mr. Hulshof has been able to tout his own history as an ethics reformer, though the fervor with which his party's regulars have embraced him has undercut that message. His real weakness is that despite conservative credentials on taxes or social issues, he's run wild with the GOP crowd that just won't relinquish the pork. Which is of course why Mr. Blunt (who pioneered House earmarks) and Mr. Bond (who sits at earmark central, the Senate appropriations committee) love him.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
DOWN AND OUT IN JEFF CITY
An interesting op-ed in the Wall Street Journal highlights the difficulties facing Missouri Republicans in November. Selected grafs:
Happy happy joy joy for Jay Nixon, Missouri's attorney general and Democratic candidate for governor. Nixon's a terrible public speaker and uninspiring gubernatorial candidate. But in this campaign cycle, all he needs is a pulse to be competitive.