Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oh I’m such an easy grader, tomorrow I will tough on the Senators, I promise…


House Grades

Steve Tilley: A-

Speaker Tilley has done pretty much everything right.  The one exception would be the changes to the work rules for legislative assistants that nearly boiled into a building revolt.


Much of his success has come from the position he enjoys.  Record Republican majorities have allowed him enormous flexibility in dealing with adversaries.  And by toiling at the fundraising wheel all last year, he’s taking a session sabbatical from the dialing grind and focusing on immediate matters.  It shows, with a very smooth House operation.


Still the future will be harder as the freshmen mob finds their footing, and his Caucus becomes skeptical of Lieutenant Governor political motivations behind legislative priorities.



Tim Jones: A-

Being Floor Leader of the House is something like being assembly line manager: keep the widgets moving off the line and discipline anyone who screws up.


But Jones has played the role well, helping convincing freshmen to “follow the leader” on tough votes (for example, one source says that the employment discrimination and minimum wage changes both failed an initial whip count).

His efforts are paying off.  He recently announced his bid for Speaker and appears to be poised to take that spot in January 2013 unopposed.

The dangers for Jones remain his temper (which he’s kept under control), and if veers too close to his Tea Party instincts and makes the business wing of the GOP nervous.



Shane Schoeller: B

Pro Tem Schoeller gets mixed reviews.  On the one hand some critics say that following the iron gavel of Bryan Pratt, Schoeller looks weak on the dais.  On the other hand, he seems to be very popular within his Caucus.


Schoeller’s real dilemma is that he’s fenced in at pro tem, with no ability to move into the more powerful floor leader or speaker job.  As result his power is located in the morning leadership meetings, and there’s no indication that he’s established himself to drive an agenda from within those meetings – yet.



John Diehl: A-

Diehl is simply overworked.  Between redistricting and rules, he’s up to his eyeballs.  Amazingly he hasn’t dropped any balls.  That alone probably earns him an A. 


The minus comes from the enduring perception that he “talks down” to people who don’t come to the conversation with the same intellect or experience.


Finally, being in the center ring means that Diehl has the largest target on his back.  And if Jones is a near lock on Speaker in January 2013 (90%), Diehl is the favorite but still a coin-toss (45%) for Speaker in January 2015.



Ryan Silvey: A

Budget Chair Silvey started the session as the big question mark.  He was given huge shoes to fill.  But he stepped into beloved Allen Icet’s role, and he handled it exceedingly well, winning bipartisan consensus on the usually contentious budget matters.  He also embraced the Lampe gambit, dinging the governor on education withholds.  It’s a cross-aisle relationship that hasn’t existed in years, and he’s been smart to deal with her.



Freshmen: C-

The freshmen are full of bright spots, but overall they are climbing up a steep learning curve which has people of all ideological stripes wondering if term limits are a disaster.  


The bright spots – Caleb Jones (staying out of trouble, but winning friends), Todd Richardson (taking on some complex issues like Second Injury Fund), Lincoln Hough (working hard, and likeable), Marsha Haefner (asking good questions, no ego) and Gary Fuhr.



House Dems: B+

Considering how terribly weak of a hand they were dealt, they’ve found a clever solution to their irrelevance. Minority Leader Mike Talboy has done a strong job keeping them in the mix. His deftly taunted the rookie Auditor into an unnecessary slap-fight.  And the Rep. Sara Lampe gambit of shimmying up to Silvey changed the landscape. It was followed by voting with Republicans on Nixon’s travel budget, they established their independence.


Their grade is brought down by Rep. Jonas Hughes (I’m a liberal so there are no Fs, but he’s in the low D range), and Whip Mike Colona who’s been erratic (showing up at Jones’ Speaker announcement fundraiser?!?  Passionately speaking against local control and then voting for it?!?)



KC Mayor

Sly James won the mayoral race handily, a big win for Rep. Jason Kander who was out in front early and loudly for James.  St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay sent congratulations over Twitter, as the long-sought Missouri urban coalition has strong western footing this morning.



$5k+ Contributions

Jay Nixon for Missouri - $20,000 from Surgical Center at ColumbiaOrthopaedic.


Save Kansas City Committee - $15,000 from James B Nutter & Company.




Happy birthday to Rep. Tom Loehner (54). 


And happy belated birthday to lobbyist Nancy Giddens who’s too young (i.e. younger than me) to be worried about her age.