We’ve interviewed the new Republican candidate for the United States Senate nomination twice now.  John Brunner is the former head of Vi-Jon, Inc., best known these days for making a hand sanitizer Germ-X.  We told him in our first interview he’s the first political candidate I’ve ever interviewed who truly enters the campaign with clean hands.  We had to explain that.

He’s 59, has a strong “operate government as a business” attitude, and looks—well, senatorial.  He has indicated there will be no shortage of money to fuel his campaign.  He has two veteran Republican campaign operatives working for him–John Hancock and Rich Chrismer.

Our telephone interview with Brunner on the day he announced his candidacy is on our web page with the story we did about him.  If you read the story or if you heard the story, you might get the impression that we couldn’t find much substance in his answers.

Late last week, he was at the state chamber of commerce offices in Jefferson City for a media availability.  All fourteen minutes of it before Hancock stopped reporters’ efforts to get him to say something of substance by announcing he had another appointment.

That interview hasn’t been on the Missourinet air or on the website. I’m still trying to figure out whether he said anything worth reporting.  I told Hancock I felt as if I’d been chewing on a cloud.   “Oh, there was lots of substance there,” he responded.

We have seen people before who seek public office and begin their campaigns in a similar vague, wandering, manner, unable to answer specific questions with answers that specifically state what their opinion is.  These people are not lacking in intelligence. They’re often people who have not been active in politics and have not paid close attention to the broad issues with which  candidates and office-holders have to deal.  They’re not prepared for reporters and others who want to know where they stand on key issues, and they want to know right now.

The news release announcing his candidacy had the standard Republican rhetoric on issues in it.  But Brunner didn’t even touch on those statements. He apparently has not been properly programmed.

He’s running against Congressman Todd Akin and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman, neither of whom is reluctant to blurt out a position, something that can be their greatest strength or their greatest liability depending on the views of the blurtee.

In today’s political climate, a candidate who cannot articulate even the standard line would seem to be at a disadvantage.

But it’s early yet.  John Brunner is a sharp guy.  He’s just getting started.  Maturity has to come quickly for candidates who’ve never entered the arena and now are entering one of the biggest, toughest contests. Some get it.  Some don’t.  Some discover the real fire they have in their bellies.  Some discover this game isn’t their game.

Let’s see how he matures.  Let’s see if some substance develops.

After all, people don’t usually buy lemon meringue pie because they like meringue.

Or put an interview on the air.

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3 thoughts on “Meringue

  1. As Gertrud Stein said about the city of Oakland, “There’s no there there.” Unfortunately Mr. Brunner, if elected, will discover that government is nothing like a business, however much he would want it to be otherwise.

  2. John Brunner is an experienced and successful executive and manufacturer. He seems to be a very “nice” man with houses in St. Louis, Michigan, and the Caymans. When I first met him last Spring, I asked the same question you do here, “Where is the substance?” He was a nervous public speaker and had no answers for the questions posed by a group of Springfield “insiders”. After a few minutes, John Hancock took over with a LAVISH endorsement. Apparently, Brunner is still trying to figure out why manufacturing has gone overseas and what his position is on many issues. He has no experience as a legislator in any capacity that I am aware of. I don’t believe he is ready to “play” at this level. Perhaps he could serve well in the executive branch. You are the second journalist to write about “fluff” and lots of money. I am supporting Todd Akin because of his 20+ years with a consistent, Constitutional voting record even when the Republican Party has gone in the wrong direction. For more background on Akin, see: – John Putnam, Chairman, Jasper County Republican Central Cmte.

  3. “I am supporting Todd Akin because of his 20+ years with a consistent, Constitutional voting record even when the Republican Party has gone in the wrong direction.”


    Mr. Putnam, have you checked Akin’s voting record this past year? If so, you will find that Akin has voted THREE times for continuing budget resolutions that a) fund Obamacare, b) fund Planned Parenthood, c) increase our budget deficit and debt, d) etc., etc. In addition to his Obamacare funding votes he also voted to EXPAND ACCESS to it by voting for H.R. 525, a bill that allowed veterinary students access to loans through an Obamacare program. In all of these instances the Republican Study Committee – the gold standard of conservatism in congress – recommended a “no” vote.

    Unfortunately, Akin has now become an entrenched member of the DC establishment. Don’t be fooled by Akin’s smooth demeanor and slick stump speeches. Instead take the time to check Akin’s voting record on key issues this year and you will find that the “consistent Constitutional voting record” he has been traveling around the state yammering about is an utter fabrication – completely limited to his words and NOT his deeds – since the Republicans ascended to power after all the hard work by the grass roots last year.

    The two major issues of today are the debt and Obamacare. Akin has gone along to get along with the DC Republican establishment all year to continue funding Obamacare; putting us all further in debt to foreign interests. So Akin fails on both accounts.

    Unless you can make a case for there being a difference between voting to IMPLEMENT Obamacare (McCaskill) and voting to FUND it (Akin), I suggest you consider jumping off the Akin bandwagon and support one of the other candidates. Akin voted to PAY for Obamacare (with OUR borrowed money, of course), therefore he OWNS it. This is something that can NOT be said of either Steelman or Brunner, neither of whom have ever in their entire life voted to spend your and my money on this unconstitutional program.

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