Monday, March 7, 2011

Missouri Hearts Nixon

Politico’s Dave Catanese has a poll showing Governor Jay Nixon’s approval ratings at 61%.  Read his Post here. That’s an impressive number. 


However the poll also has his “strong approval” at an anemic 13%.  If the 61% inspires some fear from Camp Kinder, then the 13% number surely emits a beacon of hope. 


That softness indicates that once an alternative emerges, or a sustained attack is engaged, a large portion of Nixon’s supporters could be peeled off.


This poll was taken before the “Air Nixon” radio ads started.



Those Freshmen

In my eyeballing of the representative rolls, I count 59 freshmen Republican.  The number can vary a bit depending on how folks count former state senators and state representatives who are doing a second lap in Jefferson City.


But for those who like to say that demographic is destiny, this is the group to watch.  They will determine how the House of Representatives evolves over the next three cycles.


For starters, they’re a diverse bunch, at least within terms of the Missouri Republican Party.  There are true “tea party” crusaders who imagine themselves as outsiders and those who have been involved in party politics for a decade.  There are some in their twenties as well as retirees embarking on a round of public service.  Most are from Republican districts, but remember they knocked of eleven incumbents, meaning there are a fair number from Democratic and swing districts that lean more moderately.


This diversity means two things. 


First, generalizations aren’t particularly helpful. I hear contradictory portraits of the class.  One lobbyist says it’s the most talented group that’s come to the capitol in a long time, fewer party boys, and more serious and engaged types.  Another says that they’re way behind the learning curve and some are just plain lazy.  I hear that they are too ideological, and prone to debate the witnesses in committee rather than accept the testimony as information to be digested.


Second, this group hasn’t coalesced.  Although some blame it on the cost-cutting move of eliminating the bounding experience of the freshmen tour, I think the group is too big and too diverse to become a unified bloc that could, say, determine next year’s leadership races.


That said, they are so big (larger than the entire Democratic majority) that if one faction can be unified, they could influence the House’s leadership and direction.


Finally, this I know: trouble looms.  Not today or tomorrow or even in May. Not even necessarily next year.   But the group is too big to be entirely satisfied.  There will be elements that will become disenchanted or disillusioned and they will coalesce at some point and be a sore point for leadership.


Consider that Speaker Steve Tilley was able to cut committees and still provide a chairmanship to every representative this session.  With 59 (or so, there will be some attrition) representatives thinking they deserve a chairmanship, it’ll be impossible that they will all be granted that position.


That’s the silver lining for House Dems.  They look like a minority for the foreseeable future.  But there will be Republican fissure to exploit in the years ahead.



Get the Comfy Seat

On Wednesday, Sen. Jason Crowell’s Emerging Issues Committee will hear the four “CWIP-lite” utility bills.  According to the schedule posted (See it Here) the committee hearing will be the approximate length of a Bruce Springsteen concert.


The program starts with Crowell and Sens. Mike Kehoe and Brad Lager presenting their various bills on the matter.  Then a half-hour overview from the Public Service Commission, followed by half-hour informational blocks from the Office of Public Counsel, Missouri Energy Development Association, Fair Energy Rates Action Fund, and Missouri Coalition for the Environment.  And then after that three hour set, you’ll want to stick around for the encore… public testimony.



And the Other Education Committee Meets Tuesday

Sen. Jane Cunningham didn’t get the Education Committee chair, but all of her education bills have been referred to her General Laws Committee, making it almost like a second Senate education committee some days.


Tuesday will be one of those days as she will leave her gavel in the hands of Vice-Chair Brian Nieves and present three of her bills to her committee. 


Each bill (SB 369, SB 370, SB 371) deals with failing districts, and radical remedies.  One allowing “open enrollment,” another creating a scholarship fund, and a third allowing part of the lapsed district to be adjoined to an adjacent district.



News Bits Round-Up

Post-Dispatch: Cynthia Davis running for ambulance district.  See it Here.



Wednesday Gubernatorial Appointments Committee vets former Rep. Martin Rucker for Board of Probation and Parole.



Prime Buzz says Tea Party nominating convention coming to Kansas City in October.  Read it Here.



Jo Mannies says that Sen. Rob Mayer has confirmed looking at running for attorney general in 2012.  Read it Here.



Why file a bill about Missouri Housing Development Corporation?  Because that’s where the money is, silly!  Read it Here.



Tea Party source: HCR9 (constitutional convention) has been tabled for the session.



Lobbyist Principal Changes

Jeffery Brooks added City of Fenton, Missouri. 

Mark Levison added HNTB Corporation, and CDG Engineers Architects Planners Inc.

Jim Cooper deleted Kansas City Public Library System.



$5k+ Contributions

Citizens for Timothy Jones - $25,000 from David Humphreys.

Freedom PAC - $100,000 from American Democracy Alliance.

Missourians for Fair Taxation - $135,000 from Missouri Association of REALTORS.

Schweich for Auditor - $7,5000 from Herzog Construction Corp.




Happy birthdays to former state senators Frank Barnitz (43) and Carl Vogel (56); and MO Chamber’s Rich Aubuchon (35).