by Bill O'Malley
If you want to see our state government
move in a new direction on economic development,
job creation, education, and providing better
access to health care, then I ask for your vote,
Republican candidate for governor Matt Blunt said
in an interview with The Landmark this week.
If youre satisfied with our state
government today. . .you should vote for my opponent
Blunt, who currently serves as Missouris
Secretary of State, will face Missouri Auditor
Claire McCaskill in Tuesday's gubernatorial election.
The current administration has not received high
marks on many of the pivotal issues that matter
most to voters: The school funding formula needs
to be addressed; the job base has eroded; Missouri
roads are ranked as the third worst in the nation;
and the states health care industry is considered
by industry experts to be in crisis, as doctors
are picking up their practices to move to the
refuge of other states with protections against
frivolous lawsuits and hospitals and trauma centers
The states performance under Governor Bob
Holden led Missouri Democrats to reject their
current governor in convincing fashion in favor
of McCaskill for the Democratic nomination for
governor. It is the only time in the history of
the state that a sitting governor has been ousted
in the primary.
But Blunt challenges voters to find any substantive
differences between McCaskill and Holden.
"I think there are differences in style
but no differences in substance.
Youd be hard pressed to find public policy
issues where Auditor McCaskill has a different
position than the current governor, Blunt
"My opponent is attached to the failed policies
of the past, he added.
"On the issues that are important to Missourians,
there are significant
differences between me and my opponent,
But of all the differences that divide the two
candidates, Blunt cites one as being the critical
distinction: When I ran for secretary of
there were very specific things that I said we
would do. We did those
things Blunt said.
McCaskill also made very specific promises when
she was first elected as state auditor. Blunt
maintains that she made no real effort to keep
Blunt has repeatedly challenged McCaskill to
release her tax records and those of her husband,
millionaire developer Joe Shepard. McCaskill has
released a limited financial disclosure but has
refused to release the couples taxes.
"I think Missourians need to be concerned,
Blunt said. The vast wealth that she and
her husband have come from our tax dollars,
He explained that it is important to gain a full
understanding of what
potential conflicts might exist as he alleged
that the family has received
tens of millions of dollars from taxpayer sources.
Among their differences on public policy, Blunt
referenced McCaskills public opposition
to the marriage protection amendment. The amendment
reserved marriage as being between one man and
one woman. It was passed in the August primary
by more than 70% of Missouri voters.
He also notes that McCaskill voted for more than
$1 billion in new taxes while she served in the
state legislature and her support of Holdens
vetoes of two bipartisan bills to enact litigation
and medical malpractice reform
in Missouri. The bills would have reduced the
statutory limits on damages.
Supporters said the legislation would have curbed
While the differences between the two gubernatorial
candidates are vast, one criticism from Blunts
opponent does not center on his politics, but
rather his age. Blunt, who is 33, welcomes a discussion
on his experience versus that of McCaskill, who
is 51. He, however, casually brushed aside the
refrain of his detractors who say that he is not
ready to assume the states highest elected
position because of his age.
"You know, when it comes to governors, age
is not a good indicator. Kit Bond was younger
than me when he was first elected governor. He
was an effective governor. Governor Holden is
older than Auditor McCaskill and myself, and he
has not been an effective governor, Blunt
Blunt feels that the depth and diversity of his
experience has given him the leadership skills
and perspective to lead Missouri. He finds a hubristic
arrogance in the intimation that the only experience
that matters is holding elected office.
Its not about our experience on
a state payroll, he retorted.
Upon graduating from the United States Naval
Academy, Blunt entered the armed forces where
he served as a naval officer. After leaving active
duty, he worked for a small business and was elected
to the state legislature and the secretary of
states office by convincing majorities.
He said that he was privileged to represent the
values and views of his
constituents in the state legislature and that
he was proud of his
accomplishments to enact meaningful election reform
on a bipartisan basis as secretary of state.
"All elections since Ive been elected
secretary of state have been free of the fraud
and disenfranchisement that occurred before I
became secretary of state, Blunt cited as
his proudest accomplishment in office.
If elected, Blunt said his first order of business
would be making
education the number one public policy position
and budget priority in the state. He said
that he would immediately go to work to fix the
school funding formula even before taking the
oath of office.
Blunt has pledged to never return fewer dollars
to Missouri classrooms than the previous year.
He also promised to end the improper diversion
gambling proceeds away from schools. McCaskill
voted to redirect lottery proceeds while in the
Blunt also indicated that it was important
to change our entrepreneurial climate.
The United States Chamber of Commerce has ranked
Missouri as one of the worst states as far as
business legal climates, with a ranking of 41.
"My administration will do things that reduce
the costs of being an
entrepreneur and job creator in Missouri
Blunt promised. His economic
development plan centers on litigation, tax, workers
Most groups that were formed to promote economic
development and job creation like the Missouri
Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of
Independent Businesses, and Associated Industries
of Missouri took a long hard look at both candidates
and endorsed his candidacy. Blunt remarked that
these are the primary organizations in Missouri
that champion policies
to foster a climate that nourishes the entrepreneurial
Blunt recognized, Kansas City has been
particularly hard hit by job loss. The rapid growth
in Kansas has been created at the detriment of
"We need to be concerned about the loss
of doctors to Kansas, Blunt said.
He added that enacting medical malpractice reform
is one of the most
important issues facing the state because
there are Missourians who are finding it difficult
to find doctors. He referenced an inquiry
by the American Medical Association that lists
Missouri as one of 18 crisis states."
He said that doctors are leaving Missouri and
going to greener pastures where the laws are on
the side of health care providers instead of the
trial attorneys. I am committed to correcting
that he says.
"This is about ensuring better access to
health care, not a governor who is beholden to
trial attorneys, he added. His comment referenced
the fact that McCaskill and the Democratic Party
have accepted more than $3 million dollars in
contributions from trial attorneys.
The federal government has a standard of ranking
our nations roads and they have graded Missouri
as having the third worst roads in the nation.
Blunt said It has a negative impact on economic
development, productivity, tourism .
Amendment 3 will also be on the ballot next Tuesday.
constitutionally mandate that all proceeds from
the states gas tax be
required to go to the Missouri Department of Transportation.
supports the amendment, Blunt said that its
Blunt explained that the proceeds from the gas
tax were already required to go to the roads but
that they have been diverted to other state departments.
Voters were promised that these dollars would
go to the roads when the tax was passed. He has
been critical of McCaskill for using these funds
in her office until she decided to run for governor.
"The first budget that I submit to the legislature
is going to show that Im serious about ending
a very inappropriate diversion of funds,
Blunt also advocates strengthening Missouris
Sunshine Law, requiring open meetings. He wants
to ensure that the laws are strictly enforced
and that there are real penalties to those who
violate the requirements.