Kit Bond tells Cape Girardeau crowd he'll keep working for GOP after retirement from Senate

Sunday, March 15, 2009
ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com
Sen. Kit Bond receives a standing ovation Saturday after being introduced by U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson at Lincoln Day at the Arena Building.

As he was honored Saturday evening for 40 years as a leader among Missouri Republicans, U.S. Sen. Kit Bond said he won't give up politics during his retirement years.

Bond, Missouri's senior statewide officeholder, is stepping down in 2010 after 24 years in the Senate. In a speech at the annual Cape Girardeau County Republican Lincoln Day dinner, Bond said he will remain active as he seeks to seat a Republican replacement and promised to work hard for the party after he leaves office.

"As long as I am breathing and kicking, I am going to be around," Bond said.

He also told the crowd at the Arena Building that he won't just be marking time until his term is over in January 2011. "I am going to continue to carry Missouri's best ideas to Washington," he said.

The Lincoln Day dinner is a gathering designed to showcase Republican unity and showcase the party's local and state officials. At this year's event, speakers mainly used their time to shower Bond with praise and align their actions with his.

ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com
Sen. Kit Bond speaks Saturday at Lincoln Day at the Arena Building.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder lauded Bond for helping him buck a Democratic trend in 2008 and win re-election. While Bond may have people who disagree with him on policies, Kinder said, none can fault his ethics. "He walked always in the pathways of honor," he said. "There was never a breath of scandal."

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Cape Girardeau took a few minutes of her time to thank Lloyd Smith, her chief of staff, for his work over 28 years. She noted that Smith, who will take over as executive director of the Missouri Republican Party on April 1, will be responsible for organizing the GOP to fight for Bond's seat.

"We have built the Republican Party in Southeast Missouri where we didn't use to have one," Emerson said. "He can help build the same kind of organization statewide."

Keeping Bond's seat will be the GOP's top priority in 2010. The party already has one candidate, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Springfield, seeking the job and he likely will face former state treasurer Sarah Steelman of Rolla in the primary. Democrats are expected to nominate Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

Bond's legacy for the party is as a problem-solver, Emerson said. "He doesn't ask, 'Does this solution fit my ideology?'" she said. "He asks, 'Does this solution work?'"

As people ate, a slide show looking back on Bond's career was projected on a large screen. It included images from his early years, when he was a young lawyer from Mexico, Mo., seeking first the state auditor's office and then the governorship in the early 1970s, through more recent photos of Bond with his son, Sam, a Marine Corps officer.

In his speech, Bond didn't neglect the broken economy or the efforts in Washington to resolve problems in the financial market. The stimulus bill, he said, spends too much and does too little to restore the economy.

And the problems facing banks could be relieved by using the FDIC to take over failing banks, fire the executives responsible and turn the assets over to a secure bank, he said. Debates over executive pay and perks miss the point, Bond said. "It isn't whether they should have a private plane," Bond said. "They shouldn't have a job."

At the dinner, several party activists were honored with awards. Lucas Presson was recognized with the Republican Spirit Award for his work as president of College Republicans on the Southeast Missouri State University campus. Holly Lintner, active as a party committeewoman and club leader, received the Tough Tusk Award, and Lisa Reitzel, secretary of the Republican Central Committee, was given the Bill Emerson Public Service Award.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent addresses:

410 Kiwanis Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO

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