After becoming knee deep in arguably the biggest controversy of his young gubernatorial administration, Gov. Jay Nixon faced the press this morning to answer questions about the E. Coli flap at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Nixon told reporters that he was withdrawing Joe Bindbeutel's nomination to serve on the Administrative Review Commission. Bindbeutel told the Kansas City Star that he was responsible for not releasing a report showing high levels of E. Coli at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Nixon also said he would reinstate Department of Natural Resources director Mark Templeton. Nixon suspended Templeton without pay after he announced to reporters that he received false information about the closure of beaches with high levels of the bacteria.
You can watch Nixon's opening remarks here. Video of Nixon answering questions from reporters will be posted later:
In news that should surprise no one, Robin Carnahan and Roy Blunt raised tons of money for the soon-to-be open U.S. Senate seat in Missouri.
Once against, the longtime U.S. representative from Springfield raised roughly $1.3 million and has $2.27 million of cash on hand. Carnahan, the Democratic secretary of state, raised roughly $1.07 million and about $1.8 million of cash on hand.
Without disparaging either candidate's ability to fundraise, I contend that the outside committees - like the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee - will be the biggest competitive gauge in this race. If both campaigns pour in money until the end of the campaign, then it's probably going to be a close race. If one campaign bails out before the end, then it's probably a sign of trouble.
Given Missouri's propensity for close contests and the fundraising abilities of both candidates, I say it's likely at this point that both committees will be committed to this race. Both candidates are obviously viable.
Other campaign finance tidbits from around the bend:
As a reiteration of sorts, Luetkemeyer signed onto a letter of several other Republicans who voted for the defense bill and objected to the decision to include the hate crimes provision.
object to the inclusion of the ‘hate crimes’ provisions in the
National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report for Fiscal Year 2010, and
regret that legislation intended to provide vital support to our military
personnel would be used to advance a social agenda,” said the six lawmakers in the letter.
“We all agree that criminal activity against anyone is absolutely
intolerable and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
However, we also feel that adding controversial hate crimes provisions to a
historically bipartisan bill is an affront to our military. We wish to express
our deep disappointment that our dedicated military personnel could be misused
to promote social policy.”
Luetkemeyer was the only Republican in the Missouri delegation to vote for the defense legislation. Every Democrat in the Missouri delegation voted in the affirmative.
I asked Luetkemeyer spokesman Paul Sloca whether Luetkemeyer has received any criticism from constituents over voting for the defense bill. In an e-mail, Sloca said that "while some people were concerned about the vote at first, they understood that Blaine was putting principle before politics by voting for our troops."
"There also was a lot of anger toward Nancy Pelosi for attaching
liberal legislation to a defense bill, and Blaine clearly expressed
that in his letter to the Speaker,” Sloca wrote.
Travis Brown, a lobbyist for many in and around the Missouri Capitol, produced a neat service awhile ago that sends out Tweets whenever there's a donation over $5,000 logged into the Missouri Ethics Commission.
One Tweet that caught my attention was a $25,000 from the Supporters of Health Research & Treatments to House Majority Leader Steve Tilley's campaign committee. The Perryville Republican will likely become House Speaker if the GOP maintains a majority in the Missouri House.
That committee is notable because it's typically been a way for supporters of embryonic stem cell research to donate to the political process. The stem cell issue has been a thorny one for Missouri Republicans, prompting a split between those who support embryonic stem cell research and those who oppose it on religious or moral grounds. Socially conservative Democrats have also bucked their party on the issue as well.
Before I talking to Tilley about other topics yesterday, I asked him about the donation. He said he was a "moderate Republican" who supported a constitutional amendment prohibiting the state from restricting any kind of stem cell research allowed by federal law.
"I don't mind that," Tilley said. "I think ethical research is good. I came to the conclusion that I support stem cell because I have two daughters. And I'll be honest with you. If one of them was sick and I think stem cells provided an opportunity - just a chance - to save them, I'd do it in a heartbeat. And beyond that, I think if you had a stem cell cure for cancer, I guarantee that people who are against stem cells would be happy to take the cure."
Tilley said that the "knock" on him when he was running for leadership in the House was that he was viewed as moderate on social issues.
"On social issues I'm certainly more of a moderate," Tilley said. "I think the Republican Party should be for smaller government. But you can't say you want government out of your lives and out of your business, but then preach to people how you should live."
Rep. Mike Talboy, D-Kansas City, will likely become Speaker of the House if the Democrats take over during next year's election cycle.
With the flood of campaign finance information coming forward in the next couple of days, what better time for a KBIA Commentary about... campaign finances?
I would argue no time is better.
My commentary specifically looks at the federal and state campaign finance systems. It also takes a look how outside groups will affect next year's election cycle - including the U.S. Senate race in Missouri.