Last Tuesday Missourians voted in the 2016 Primary Election for Governor. 683,523 Missouri Republicans cast their ballot to select a nominee. Conversely 324,360 Democratic voters cast their ballots to do the same.
Eric Greitens emerged from the Republican contest victorious, achieving 236,250 votes or 34.56% of the vote. His challenge is to earn the vote of the roughly 65% of Republicans who voted against him. As a former Democrat he will need to unify the Republican Party’s conservative base in order to win.
Mr. Koster on the other hand won his party’s primary election with 255,466 votes or 78.76% of voters. As a former Republican his challenge is similar. He must excite his party’s liberal-progressive base to turn out the kind of numbers he will need to win in November 2016. His party has held the White House and Governor’s Mansion for the last seven years which presents its own set of trials.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, 2016.
To fall-in-line or fall in love
It used to be said that Republicans fell-in-line while Democrats wanted to fall in love with their candidates. Republican discipline presumably won the day over the disorganized, emotional left.
In recent years that script has flipped. Republicans continue searching for but not finding the second coming of Ronald Reagan in an era when Democrats are actively led by President Barack Obama as the archetype liberal-progressive. Democratic voters will look back on his administration the way Republicans uphold the Reagan era.
Democratic politics has become increasingly focused on winning, often setting aside ideology to fall-in-line behind one candidate in order to put a member of their party in office. With the epitome of liberal-progressiveness in the White House it is easier for ideological liberals to accept varying degrees of progressive candidates down the ballot in order to win. Once in office the elected official is molded into a prototype of Obama liberalism if they weren’t sufficiently liberal already.
Republicans on the other hand are tired of losing the White House and Governor’s Mansion and have been undergoing an internal contest between the moderate establishment and movement conservatives over what the future holds. Conservatives who feel like they have fallen-in-line for decades with scant few policy results want to fall in love, ideologically, with a Reaganesque candidate at the top-of-the-ticket. If they don’t get what they want, many seem content to leave the boxes for President and Governor blank at the polls on November 8th. Grassroots conservatives are tired of being taken for granted.
The Policy Stakes
What is at stake in terms of policy in this year’s Governor’s Race? A lot, but for the sake of brevity let’s quickly focus on two critical issues that separate Missouri’s two gubernatorial candidates.
Right-to-work is slowly matriculating its way down the field in the stadium of ideas. It’s a big contest for which there is no compromise for either side. We will either be a right-to-work state or not. In this challenge we believe that it is a matter of if, not when Missouri passes right-to-work. That said, no outcome is certain in politics and policy. You have to fight for every yard and because it is such a hard fight it matters who your players are.
When Missouri becomes a right-to-work state it will demonstrate to the country that we are open for business. We will demonstrate to our citizens that we care about their families and creating the conditions for growth and prosperity.
- Democratic nominee Chris Koster is wholly opposed to Right-to-Work. He has been funded by labor to the tune of several million dollars. Labor reform becomes much harder if not impossible if Mr. Koster is elected governor.
- Republican nominee Eric Greitens has assured Missourians that he will sign right-to-work as governor. Presumably he will sign other labor reforms like prevailing wage, paycheck protection, and public sector union reform as well.
In a Greitens administration Missouri becomes a right-to-work state in 2017. In a Koster administration it does not. That is a significant difference when it comes economic development and job creation.
Medicaid Expansion is part and parcel of Obamacare. Expansion is something that the Missouri Legislature has withstood under great duress from special interests in Jefferson City. They have done so because they have legitimate concerns about the impact on Missouri’s budget. Most legislators believe that to expand Medicaid is to capitulate with Obamacare. Instead they prefer to focus on supporting the full repeal of Obamacare not only with rhetoric but with their actions.
- Democratic nominee Chris Koster supports Obamacare and the Expansion of Medicaid in Missouri. He believes that through expansion Missouri can leverage $2 Billion annually in federal money.
- Republican nominee Eric Greitens does not support Obamacare or the Expansion of Medicaid in Missouri. He believes that Medicaid Expansion will negatively impact Missouri’s budget and damage job creation.
A Koster administration expands Medicaid and capitulates with Obamacare. Greitens promises to continue withstanding pressure to expand Obamacare/Medicaid and look for other solutions. Having a governor who is a leader in pushing back against Obamacare would be a significant improvement.
The question on the minds of grassroots conservatives largely center on whether or not Eric Greitens conversion from liberalism is real. They have nothing upon which to base their trust except his word and that of his surrogates. Remember grassroots conservatives are tired of being burned by candidates who campaign as conservatives and govern differently when elected.
The other question before conservatives is do you want to win. Will you allow a liberal in the person of Chris Koster to walk into the Governor’s Mansion without conservative grassroots opposition?
There is no question that Mr. Koster will vigorously oppose conservative priorities in a way that we have not seen under Gov. Nixon. Mr. Koster is a party builder who will work hard to increase democratic numbers in the State Senate and State House of Representatives while working to co-opt Republican officials on important policy priorities. He is a formidable opponent.
Conservatives can choose to attempt to interrupt Koster’s march to the mansion by going with the Republican nominee Eric Greitens. With 65% of Republicans voting against Eric in the Primary it is fair to ask will they take a chance on him. He has promised to sign many if not all of conservatives’ legislative priorities. The other option(s), are leaving it blank, or staying home. Both of which virtually guarantee a Koster Administration.
Maybe a more important question is, how quickly Mr. Greitens will outreach to grassroots conservatives in a substantive way. He will have to move beyond his talking points and engage them in a meaningful way in order to win them. They want to know that he is either one of them or that he at least understands and respects them.
Time will tell, but time is not a luxury we have as Missourians sprint towards Election Day 2016. It’s time choose. Choose wisely.