Commentary

A 2022 wish list for Missouri politicos | Opinion

January 4, 2022 7:00 am

In politics, your destiny is often out of your control, and hinges on forces that you may not even ever see (Photo by smshoot/Getty Images).

In most jobs, most of the time, you determine your own destiny.

If you’re a salesman who wants to sell more copiers the next year, you make a plan to develop more leads, make more calls every morning, get more sits and refine your pitch to close more effectively.

If you’re a software engineer who wants to please his new boss in the new year, you vow to design software that is even more user-friendly and glitch-free. 

But in politics — especially for state legislators — your destiny is often out of your control, and hinges on forces that you may not even ever see.

Indeed, there are at least 196 other people who could — directly or indirectly — scuttle the bill that a Missouri legislator has labored over for a decade… even if 90% of the Legislature supports it. Just ask state Sen. Holly Rehder. 

That’s not to say that politics is all luck. Rather, it is to say that all the work in the world may not matter if things don’t break your way at the right time.

With that in mind, as we begin a new legislative session and election year, I thought it might be interesting to ponder the breaks leading Missouri politicians are hoping to get. I’ll start with the race whose candidates have the least control of their own destiny: The U.S. Senate contest that is subject to the vicissitudes of national political winds and could conceivably, before all is said and done, see $100 million of outside spending.  

Billy Long

A Trump endorsement, likely his only path to close a 20-plus point U.S. polling deficit.

Eric Schmitt

A delicate balance here – given his lawsuits against local mitigation efforts, he wants Omicron and any other new virus strains not to overwhelm the healthcare system, but wouldn’t mind some new urban public health advisories to file suit against and maintain his heightened visibility.

Eric Greitens

International conflict over Taiwan (perhaps his best chance to highlight Schmitt’s support for the China hub at Lambert Airport and for foreign ownership of farmland), a Kim Gardner disbarment, and a William Tisaby conviction

Vicky Hartzler

A viral debate moment – perhaps a more pointed line about her own hairdresser? – that cuts through the clutter and helps differentiate her from the pack of St. Louis-area male candidates

Mark McCloskey

 A couple solid leads on big personal injury cases – which was probably Plan B all along.

Lucas Kunce

A Greitens nomination – likely his only shot in the general.

Scott Sifton

A face-saving exit from the U.S. Senate race – although the Auditor’s nomination probably isn’t worth much this cycle with MO Dems rebuilding and Dems in control of Washington facing the usual midterm backlash.

Roy Blunt

A farewell tour of all the communities enjoying the fruits of his decade of appropriations labor – and a successor not named Greitens.

Cori Bush

 Is it possible to add the 45,000 voters necessary and maintain an equally progressive 1st congressional district electorate by adding left-trending parts of Mid- and West County (without adding Jewish voters) or perhaps even downtown St. Charles?

Steve Roberts

A 1st congressional district with thousands of new West County Jewish voters interested in U.S. policy on Israel.

Mike Parson

Appropriators willing to spend federal money on lots of new roads, bridges and buildings, and a House chamber interested in hearing his State of the State in person. 

Mike Kehoe

A session relatively free of drama instead of one like last year’s that pits him, as the Missouri Senate’s presiding officer, against the chamber’s Conservative Caucus.

Dave Schatz

See above, plus team victories in the Senate Bowling and Legislative Softball tournaments. 

Caleb Rowden

 See above, plus an expansion of last session’s education reform wins.

Jay Ashcroft

More respect for his ballot language drafting.

Scott Fitzpatrick

An extra basis point on state deposits, appreciation for those who track down and deliver unclaimed property, and hair half as good as his rival in the GOP primary for state Auditor.

David Gregory

A convincing route to Fitzpatrick’s right.

Nicole Galloway

A lucrative Big Four accounting firm partnership, or an in-house CFO gig that would afford more time with her family.

Sam Page

A quick peak of the Omicron wave, a relatively uneventful return to post-Winter Break in-person schooling, and no potent 2022 variants.

Shamed Dogan

Distance from his national party (i.e., Trump), and a Rita Days endorsement.

Tishaura Jones

A second year with a declining murder rate, accompanied by reductions in robberies, carjackings and property crimes. 

Rob Vescovo

 An expanded legacy on pro-life legislation and education reform, two issues about which he feels passionately.

Dean Plocher

Smooth sailing towards the Speaker’s gavel.

Rick Brattin

A field of 4th district competitors hailing exclusively from Boone County.

Sara Walsh

Headlines that don’t involve tragedy.

Eric Burlison

Headlines about crafting a Second Amendment Preservation Act compromise with law enforcement, instead of headlines about law enforcement opposition to it.

Mike Moon

Government and/or business mandates related to just about anything — vaccines, masks, or spotted owls — that could benefit the guy who best connects with the perpetually aggrieved base.

Jon Patterson

Interestingly, the Floor Leader candidate perceived as less ideological seems to have sewn up the backing of most of the Conservative Caucus, and needs to lock down more mainstream caucus members.

Mike Haffner

Likewise, the Floor Leader candidate perceived as more ideological seems to have sewn up the backing of most of the Lincoln Caucus, and needs to win over more Conservative Caucus members.

Hannah Kelly

Enough bickering between backers of the two other Floor Leader candidates that helps her become the compromise candidate.

Cody Smith

Less BBB; more state Sen. Curtis Trent.

Curtis Trent

A high-profile bill that reaches the governor’s desk and helps separate him from an opponent without a legislative record.  

Crystal Quade

 An opening of majority party rifts centered on redistricting and ambition for higher office.

Tracy McCreery

A Senate district that looks almost exactly like the one in which she currently lives.

Missouri Senate Democrats

Medicaid expansion; chaos.

Senate Conservative Caucus

Medicaid retrenchment; chaos.

Quinton Lucas, Barbara Washington, Lauren Arthur, Greg Razer, Jolie Justus, Jason Holsman, and any other aspiring KC politicos

A 6-2 map.

Sam Graves, Ann Wagner, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Jason Smith

A 6-2 map.

U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the Missouri Senate Conservative Caucus

A 7-1 map.

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Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith is executive director of the Missouri Workforce Housing Association, which supports development of safe, affordable housing. Previously, he taught public policy at Dartmouth College and The New School, represented the city of St. Louis in the Senate, and wrote three books: Trading Places, on U.S. party alignment; Mr. Smith Goes to Prison, a memoir and argument for reform; and Ferguson in Black and White, an historical analysis of St. Louis inequality. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Washington University.

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