Holden's veto strategy not likely to stir voters

There was no guessing what Gov. Bob Holden would do if the Missouri Legislature, controlled by Republicans for the first time in half a century, passed bills that have been part of the GOP agenda for years but never went anywhere because of the Democratic power structure.

As expected, the governor vetoed key bills on abortion, legal reforms, regulatory relief for small businesses and concealed weapons.

It was something of a surprise, however, that the governor appeared to go out of his way to veto other bills dealing with foster-care reform, limits on lawsuits against firearms manufacturers, traffic regulations and court fees to fund equipment needs for county sheriffs.

Some of these bills weren't strictly Republican measures, having received broad support from Democrats as well.

But Holden continues to demonstrate that his re-election strategy -- he will be running for a second four-year term in November 2004 -- is one of head-on partisan confrontation. That was clearly the case during his budget maneuvering that cost the state a special legislative session and produced little, if anything, in the way of a victory for the governor.

Holden nearly set a record by vetoing 30 of the 254 measures adopted by the legislature. Only Gov. John Dalton bested that number by vetoing 35 bills in 1961.

What many observers see as a contest shaping up in the September veto session will more than likely turn into a partisan affair. Many Democrats who saw the merits of vetoed measures they voted for will find many excuses to change their minds when a two-thirds majority is needed for an override. In many of those cases, Holden's persuasion and threats will succeed, and he will attempt to claim the ultimate victory.

But voters may not be impressed by this political show. They have demonstrated they didn't care about Holden's budget battle. Will they be any more bothered by his veto fireworks?