Gizzi on Politics: April 7-11

After Hulshof
One reason that Republicans in Washington and in many parts of Missouri were not ecstatic about the surprise decision of six-term Rep. Kenny Hulshof to seek the Republican nomination for governor this year is that they fear that if onetime prosecutor Hulshof(lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 90%) does not carry the GOP standard, the right kind of Democrat could easily pick up the 9th District.

Note that phrase, “the right kind of Democrat.” Still dubbed “Little Dixie”, the 9th stretches along the Mississippi River and its most famous son is Mark Twain from tiny Hannibal, the model for St. Petersburg, the home of Twain characters Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. Its most famous U.S. House members are two decidedly non-liberal Democrats: Champ Clark (1892-94, 1896-1920), speaker of the House from 1910-18 and leading presidential rival to Woodrow Wilson in 1912, and Clarence Cannon (1922-64), master parliamentarian and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee from 1941-64, except for the four years of Republican rule.

Cut from the mold of Clark and Cannon is the leading Democratic contender, former House Speaker Steve Gaw. Considered moderate on abortion and a strong 2nd Amendment man, Gaw would definitely be the hardest Democrat to beat in the 9th. Squaring off against Gaw in the August 5 primary (Missouri has no run-off mechanism) are two liberal notables: State Rep. Judy Baker of Boone County and former State Senate Floor Leader Ken Jacobs, the favorite of Big Labor. 

On the Republican side, there is no clear favorite among the four contenders, who are all considered conservative: Dr. Bob Onder, who has degrees in both microbiology and law and is the key point man in the fight against cloning in the state legislature; onetime University of Missouri football great Brock Olivo; Dani Moore, the first Republican state representative from Callaway County since Reconstruction, and Blaine Luetkemeyer, former state legislator and onetime director of the state tourism commission.

Hulshof nearly took out veteran Democratic Rep. (1976-96) Harold Volkmer in 1994 and finally ousted the veteran congressman two years later. But Show Me State pundits are quick to point out that Hulshof had a united party behind him in the year he unseated Volkmer and was unopposed for the GOP nomination. With four strong contenders running hard for the Republican nod this year, it is difficult to say whether the party will have a united front after the August primary


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