Lt. Gov. Peter D. Kinder has told reporters he’ll announce his decision about his political future next month. Reporters from the Missourinet and other media have talked to some Republicans who wonder if he has a political future. Other Republicans are publicly maintaining their support. But behind the scenes, phone calls are being made. “Would you run for governor?” the callers are asking GOP lawmakers or supporters. The people we have talked to say the answers have uniformly been “no.”
Kinder is about to go on the defensive offensive with a big road trip, telling his supporters, “Before I make my final decision, I want the chance to earn your trust…Without your support I cannot succeed and I will not run if I cannot win.” And he goes on to say, “The decision should reside in your hands, not a few powerbrokers or the media.”
From what we gather, some of the “powerbrokers” are in his own party. As for the media, all it has done is raise some character issues involving Kinder’s relationship a long time ago with a stripper, his billing of the state for a lot of hotel rooms—and his subsequent repayments to the state although he questions whether he should have made the repayments because he maintains he has done nothing wrong–and a few other things. Kinder also charges his “opponents’ operatives” have “taken advantage of a situation you may have heard of.” He also complains of “all the spin by the press and bloggers whose agenda have replaced the truth and facts.’
We’ve seen this kind of thing before in long years of observing political candidates, candidate wannabes, and candidate losers. They almost never blame themselves when they lose or fail to generate enough support to run. In his email to supporters, Kinder is setting up that scenario to blame the “opponents’ operatives,” “the press and bloggers” and the “powerbrokers.”
But he is fully within his rights to do so. He is fully within his rights to make a concerted effort to sell himself to those whose support he needs to run, let alone run successfully. And he does have some credentials. But in going on this tour, is he willing to confront possible unpleasant truths about the way he is perceived? His email says he wants to listen to others. But most of his email is about himself. And the email is addressed to “supporters,” not to Republicans in general or to the general voter population. Reporters covering his meetings—we hope he will allow the media to be there–will tell us how they go.
Although he says he says in his email letter “some insiders and media pundits are calling for me to bow out of a race I have not even entered,” Kinder HAS entered the race. One does not have to wait until formal filing for office to be campaigning. And it is clear from his email that his tour is a campaign as much as a listening tour. In fact, the last line of his letter says, “I look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail soon!”
But all of that is okay, especially under the circumstances.
Kinder’s relationship a long time ago with a stripper that he claims ended because it conflicted with his religious beliefs, and his recent brief encounter with her at a bar where he claims he just stopped to use a bathroom and stayed long enough to have a glass of wine and get a picture taken with her that is now an embarrassment, are things his critics just won’t let go of. And we all know that the people on the other side are going to use that and the questions about his billing of hotel rooms to the state, and some other issues to pound him and pound him and pound him in the campaign if he stays in.
A big fund-donor wants his money back. A freshman state representative says Kinder should get out, for whatever weight that carries.
Our friend Steve Kraske at the Kansas City Star had a front-page column in last Friday’s paper called “Kinder’s Campaign Reaches a Crossroads” that sums up the situation pretty well. It was written before the announcement of the tour.
Kinder has said he’s talked about the stripper thing all he’s going to talk about it. When our own Allison Blood wanted to talk to Kinder at the state fair ham breakfast a few days ago, Kinder’s protective entourage told her she couldn’t ask about you-know-what and she didn’t. One of them called her the next day when she mentioned in her story that Kinder was refusing to discuss the matter but he was willing to talk about his campaign. Too bad, the guy was told. You might be able to limit what can be asked but you can’t limit what can be said. And that’s a problem for Kinder. Will his people tell those he is hitting the road to meet that they cannot ask him about you-know-who, as they did with reporters at the State Fair? .
Kinder is trying to put a “business as usual” face before the public in the meantime. He testified last week in his state-mandated role as senior citizen advocate before a legislative committee on disaster recovery. He continues moving around criticizing the governor and saying he’ll announce his plans in September. But he can’t make people quit talking about that woman, that picture, that long-ago fantasy relationship.
That discussion might die down for now. But those of us who have covered Missouri politics for any time at all know we’ll be watching some awfully nasty political commercials next year if he stays in the race. Kinder, of course, does not shy away from accusatory pronouncements himself.
But right now, Kinder is going on what the sports people covering pennant races call “a crucial road trip.”
He says we’ll learn his future in September. So, perhaps, will he.
Here’s his letter to supporters (after the jump):
I am communicating directly with you so you don’t have to sort through all the spin by the press and bloggers whose agenda have replaced the truth and facts.
While my opponents’ operatives have taken advantage of a situation you may have heard of, I accept complete responsibility and apologize to you for my actions of almost 17 years ago as a single man.
With that being said, I strongly oppose the notion that Republicans should allow Democrat dirty tricks or media bias to disqualify or choose the Republican nominee for Governor.
Who should be the Republican nominee for Governor in 2012?
I believe that question should be answered by Republican voters and activists, not the media, and certainly not the self-described kingmakers, nor the special interests and insiders.
There are 15 months until the election. I have not announced for Governor. I have not filed nor have I been nominated to be the Republican candidate; yet, some insiders and media pundits are calling for me to bow out of a race I have not even entered.
In my entire career nothing has been given to me. I have never had an easy race. I first ran for state Senate in 1992. My opponent was a former First Lady of our state who had been her Party’s gubernatorial nominee four years earlier. With the help of hundreds of volunteers, I came from behind to win making me the first Republican ever to represent any Bootheel counties in the Missouri Senate.
I have had to fight and work hard to win every battle. After almost 20 years of service, I am not going to quit now without letting the rank and file of our Party be part of the process. Part of that process is letting you and others know the REAL RECORD and the REAL REASON the Democrats supporting Jay Nixon have orchestrated these early personal attacks.
In the Missouri Senate, I sponsored, passed and worked to override the governor’s veto of Missouri’s first ban on partial-birth abortion.
I sponsored legislation defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
In 2001, I led Republicans to their first Senate majority in over 50 years. Upon my election to Senate President Pro Tem, I immediately bucked senior members of the party by instituting reforms, eliminating corruption, and cutting the budget by almost 20 percent.
As President Pro Tem, I sponsored and won approval for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a measure that restores the highest constitutional protections for the fundamental right to worship. Under my leadership we passed Missouri’s Conceal and Carry Law, which gave law abiding citizens the right to carry a firearm.
I took on Jay Nixon when he was Attorney General, uncovering insider contracts where he paid trial attorneys over $20,000 an hour for work on the state’s tobacco settlement which robbed taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars.
I worked to pass legislation establishing a sales-tax holiday in Missouri giving families relief from sales tax for a three-day period to assist them with buying clothes and supplies for school. My innovative tax relief is helping Missouri’s economy by increasing retail sales at the same time it helps Missouri families.
For over almost two decades I have fought and successfully sponsored the creation of Charter schools that give urban children and parents a choice for the first time, and more importantly, a chance of succeeding.
In 2004, I faced the popular former Secretary of State and came from behind. I was the first Republican to be elected Lt. Governor in nearly 30 years. In 2008, when Republicans across the country lost in the Democrat landslide election, I was the only Republican to win statewide.
As Acting Governor in 2005, I signed into law the Missouri Military Family Relief Fund. The Fund makes grants available to families of persons who are members of the Missouri National Guard or Missouri residents who are members of the reserves and have been called into active duty as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Since being elected your Lt. Governor, I have returned money to taxpayers every year. Last year alone I returned almost 10 percent of my budget to the state treasury.
Last August, Missourians rejected the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Healthcare Bill by passing Proposition C by over 70 percent. Despite this result, Governor Nixon refused to act on behalf of Missouri Taxpayers. In-fact Nixon continues to spend your tax dollars to prepare for the implementation of the federal mandates required by Obamacare. I acted by raising private money and have financed a constitutional challenge against the federal mandate requiring individuals to carry health insurance. Twenty-one states and executive and legislative officials in four other states have signed on to support my constitutional challenge which is likely to end up in the Supreme Court.
I have always been a team player. Four years ago, I chose not to run for Governor to preserve party unity and commited myself to helping other Republicans. Last year alone, I raised and donated over $300,000 for Republican candidates, raised money for the Republican Party and attended over 50 fundraisers for legislative candidates.
Today we are at a crossroads. Missouri’s economy is languishing in ruin and the current Governor has done nothing. Missouri had the third worst job loss rate in the country last year and ranks 49 out of 50 states in monthly employment growth since January 2009. No state has suffered a longer drought in employment growth than Missouri. From January 2009 to March 2010, Missouri saw 14 consecutive months of decline in employment. Nearly 83,000 jobs have disappeared since Jay Nixon became Governor.
What can a Governor do to help create jobs? In Missouri, we have looked to other states with innovative Governors to find an answer. Our current Governor continues to embarrass our state by showing Governors across the country what not to do. A defining example of Jay Nixon’s dereliction of duty occurred in 2009. While Governors from other states were meeting with Harley Davidson to try and lure jobs to their states, Governor Nixon cancelled his appointment with the company choosing to spend the day at the State Fair. This inexcusable behavior contributed to a major loss of what could have been nearly 1,300 good paying jobs. Another example is Jay Nixon’s refusal to return calls from the official in his administration tasked with helping create Missouri jobs. For this reason, Governor Nixon’s Director of Economic Development resigned in frustration stating she had been “unable to meet” the governor “to discuss and reconcile our different views on how to move the state… forward.” You deserve better.
I believe in our state, and I believe the people of this state have an untapped greatness. I am committed to waging a winning campaign as I have done 5 times before.
But before I make my decision, I will begin a statewide tour and visit every corner of the state and meet with conservatives, grassroots activists and all Missouri voters, while listening to you and your concerns. I will share the details of my plans of how we can restore Missouri’s greatness by creating new higher paying jobs, cutting waste and fraud of taxpayers’ dollars, improving schools, and rebuilding our communities.
Before I make my final decision, I want the chance to earn your trust so together we make the difference you deserve. Together we can chart a course to win in November 2012. Without your support I cannot succeed, and I will not run if I cannot win. The decision should reside in your hands, not a few powerbrokers or the media. If I were not a real threat to their politics as usual and out of control spending, they would not be attacking me so viciously and falsely.
I cannot express enough my appreciation for your friendship and support. I look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail soon!
Peter D. Kinder
P.S. I thought you might be interested in this link to a video segment regarding my record of service. Click here