Rep. Steve Tilley 'leaning toward' running for lieutenant governor in 2012
Thursday, December 16, 2010
When the Missouri Legislature's new session convenes in January, Steve Tilley will become the next speaker of the House of Representatives.
But the Perryville Republican already has his eyes on his next political prize -- lieutenant governor.
Tilley changed his campaign committee last week to reflect the possibility that he will run in 2012 for the lieutenant governor's seat being vacated by Peter Kinder, his fellow GOP member from Cape Girardeau.
"I'm definitely leaning toward running for lieutenant governor," Tilley said Wednesday evening. "I'll probably make a decision sometime in the summer after the session is over. Right now, I want to focus on the task at hand. I am 100 percent committed to running the House."
With filings not set to begin for 14 months, Tilley said he's forced to move quicker because of term limits. Tilley will be ineligible to run for the House in 2012.
"With term limits, people have to make decisions quicker than they traditionally have," he said. "I think term limits are good; they offer new ideas and bring new people into the process. But I think it's certainly accelerated the decision-making process."
Rep. Ellen Brandom, a Republican from Sikeston, said Tilley would make a great lieutenant governor. She described him as an effective leader who promises to be a more-than-capable House speaker. He's already shown impressive aggressiveness, lining up committee memberships and leadership positions.
"I can't tell you how far along we are already," she said. "We are a go. We are really moving. But that's just the way Steve operates."
Tilley and the rest of the legislature will face some tough decisions this session, with an expected $500 million budget shortfall projected for 2012, Brandom said. Tilley has let the House members know that they will have to make cuts to their offices if they expect other state departments to follow suit.
"In the real world, we can't expect any department to have cuts if we aren't willing to make cuts ourselves," Brandom said. "Steve understands that and has let us know that he expects that of us."
As far as being a lieutenant governor, Brandom said there is a "real possibility" that Tilley would follow in Kinder's steps as being a "strong Republican leader." She said that's what Missouri needs right now.
In the meantime, Tilley said he's focused on running the House, which is in the hands of the largest GOP majority in state history. That's why he changed his committee paperwork now, he said, so that his future political plans would not become a distraction during the session.
The state has so many issues, he said, including the budget deficit and unemployment rates. In fact, he said, he sees job creation as the legislature's No. 1 priority this session.
"Job creation and the economy will have to be our biggest issues," Tilley said. "We have to live within our means, hold the line on taxes. We'll have to take a look at regulatory reform, legal reform, improving our economic development packages. Really, we need to do whatever we can to improve the economic climate in Missouri."