Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has been battered by a number of bad headlines, including for his past flirtations with a stripper whom he happened to be photographed with recently. (Ah, politics.
Kinder has also seen his fundraising drop off significantly, from $1 million in the second quarter to $400,000 in the third, and Gov. Jay Nixon (D) is looking stronger every day.
Republicans familiar with the race note that Kinder hasn’t officially announced his bid — he’s getting some pressure not to run — and they expect an alternative candidate to emerge soon.
The question is just how good that candidate will be. Failed 2010 House candidate Ed Martin, who has been severely outraised by Wagner in the 2nd district race, is the subject of a draft effort by some conservatives.Patrick Tuohey of the Missouri Record has gone so far as to write that Kinder Must Go. I will not go as far Tuohey. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has heard the conservative call of the Tea Party and, unlike so many establishment candidates, he has heeded that call.
However, things have changed for Kinder. He's taken a beating in the press as the Washington Post illustrates incompletely above. I've found myself unable to defend him the past few months while talking with friends. I find that I just don't jump to his defense as I did six months ago. I think that bodes ill for Kinder's gubernatorial aspirations because, if he's not getting positive press in the political banter between friends, then I think he's going to have a long hard slog ahead of him.
Those conversations between friends inevitably turn to alternative GOP candidates for governor. Ed Martin is frequently mentioned as he was in the Washington Post article above, but I don't see Martin jumping into the Governor's race unless he's pushed. If there's a cry from the masses that pushes Ed in, he will jump in with both feet and fists flying at Gov. Jay Nixon. That's just who Ed is.
But Ed Martin hasn't ever been elected to office which is almost a prerequisite for a state-wide run, especially for Governor. He does have experience working as former Governor Matt Blunt's Chief-of-Staff, but that experience will draw the obvious attacks from the left about the emails Blunt's administration was slow to release. The real question is whether Martin or Kinder has a better temperament for leading the conservative fight at the top of the ticket. That's for others--like the masses crying for Ed Martin--to decided.
Let's be clear about who those masses are. Yes, Ed Martin has grassroots support, but it's his ties to the Republican Party that must provide momentum for the push. The grassroots are not going to raise the million plus dollars required to put force behind that push. Furthermore, Martin will not elbow Peter Kinder out of the way even if the grassroots want him to. In short, the only realistic path I see for Ed Martin to enter the Governor's race is for the heir apparent, Peter Kinder, to pass the baton to Martin. That would involve stepping aside and endorsing Martin as well as providing an infusion of cash to a Martin for Governor campaign committee.
Peter Kinder has been waiting his entire life for a shot at the Governor's mansion. You don't often get a second shot, so the decision before him is a difficult and very personal one.
I will agree with Patrick Tuohey of the Missouri Record on one point: that stepping aside from his run for Governor allows Kinder to write his own epilogue. It's rare for an executive like Kinder to step aside from the enticing thrall of political power, but not unheard of. In fact, George Washington did so twice. The first time was when he resigned as commander-in-chief of the armies at the close of the American Revolution. The second was when he retired after his second term as president setting a two-term precedent for presidential service.