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Opinion: Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder

Friday, August 26, 2011

I served six years in the Missouri Legislature as a state representative and now over 40 years in the newspaper business. I've had experiences on the Governor's Reform Committee of over 30 members just seven years ago. I know how hard it is to get some in the media to report on the content of bills and recommendations. After months of meetings and honest discussion of a strong committee there was little coverage of our recommendation (as we witnessed recently of the special federal committee on the budget).

I've known Peter Kinder for years as a personal friend, former business associate and supporter of his government service career. I went to the same church and sang in the choir with him and his mother. Recently Peter has been castigated to the extreme by some in the media (like a rag doll a dog won't let go).

In recently talking with Peter about his time line in the political arena, I realized that I really didn't know a lot of the details. This is my effort to give substance, facts and background to Kinder's many years of public service.

Days after earning his law degree and passing the Missouri Bar exam in February, 1980, he plunged into managing the old 10th District congressional campaign. Republicans hadn't won a congressional race there since 1928, but that campaign upended a six-term incumbent, electing Bill Emerson. Next he spent 15 months in Emerson's D.C. office, then managed his tough 1982 re-election campaign.

In early 1983 Kinder joined the legal staff of Drury Industries Inc., where he remained four years, traveling and doing real estate law and development work. I told Peter he ought to pay them for the experience he would and did gain.

After four years with the Drurys, in 1987 Kinder made a career change into newspaper publishing with the Southeast Missourian in Cape Girardeau. For 17 years he wrote columns and some editorials until becoming a full-time lieutenant governor in 2005.

Peter first ran for State Senate in 1992. His opponent: a good friend of mine, Betty Hearnes, a former first lady and distinguished leader who had been her party's gubernatorial nominee four years earlier. A spirited but clean campaign ensued, and Kinder came from behind to win on an otherwise grim election night for the Missouri GOP. This made Kinder the first Republican to represent any Bootheel counties in the Missouri Senate.

In 1993 he took his seat in what seemed a perpetual Republican minority. The Democrats controlled the governor's mansion and a big House majority. January 2001 saw the Republicans win an 18-16 majority. He was elected the first Republican Senate president pro tem in 53 years and served 12 years as a state senator (pre-term limits).

Along with other senators (Republicans and Democrats) they reorganized the Senate -- cut costs, sold unused assets, laid off ghost employees and brought fiscal responsibility to the state budget at a time when this wasn't always popular. Subsequent elections yielded GOP gains in both '02 and '04. When he departed the Senate to serve as lieutenant governor, Republicans had added a House majority and built the then-largest GOP Senate majority in state history.

In his seven years as lieutenant governor, Kinder has been involved with many issues that if I listed them would read like a campaign brochure.

Elections matter. I don't know if Peter Kinder will run for governor or not, but I think he will. A perfect person or candidate? There is no such person alive today.

What I do know is that the fans of a major-league baseball team would not support the benching of a star player who has hit over .300 for many years because of some minor personal issues of his past.

I hope all of you recognize that 19 years in elective office at salaries below his earning capabilities deserve your consideration and evaluation on his leadership qualities if Peter Kinder decides to run for governor.

I thank you for reading. I've struggled with how to condense my feelings and information sharing of my many years of experience with Kinder into a short column.

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

-- From a speech by Theodore Roosevelt

Gary Rust is the chairman of Rust Communications.

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Awwww, poor Peter has been "castigated to the extreme by some in the media."

Why, I've never heard of such a thing!

Do you expect us to admire him for building a Republican empire in Jeff City?

We're not looking for a "perfect person," Gary. But we should be able to expect decency and morality from a person who prays in public, makes a display of attending church with his mother, and holds himself out to be a Christian Conservative.

You see, that's what you don't get, Mr. Newspaper Man. It's the hypocrisy! Your partisan eyes don't see that.

-- Posted by grisgris on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 8:21 AM

The bottom line to Kinder's woes is this: He's a politician. He knows that your "private" life can be put under the magnifying glass at any time by the media for the public to judge. He knows that making decisions to do things that the electorate may deem inappropriate, could come back to haunt you later in life. When you step off into that world and make those risky decisions that do come back to haunt you, well that's just part and parcel to a political career. Only Peter Kinder is to blame for the mess he is in right now, whether or not the Democrats unnearthed his "dirty laundry". The bottom-bottom line is this: Kinder is history as far as winning the race for governor. I'm sure Nixon is praying that Kinder ends up being his opponent because re-election would be a cinch.

-- Posted by 1happypappy on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 9:37 AM

"Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. -Plato

-- Posted by Reasoning on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 12:48 PM

I saw Peter Kinder debate at SEMO many years back.

His opponent was a professor(if I remember correctly).

Peter Kinder tried to berate the man for living in an apartment and not paying any property taxes.

Yes, Peter Kinder tried to win a debate on the campus of SEMO by mocking a guy for renting an apartment.

I'll let the ignorance of that stance sink in for awhile....

I guess Peter Kinder paid the property taxes on that car that was stolen from him that was owned by The Friends Of Peter Kinder, right?

He's a hypocrite and a jerk. I'll never vote for him.

-- Posted by the_eye on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 3:42 PM

I would like to ask the reporter where voters should draw the line on breaking support for a politician? One or two misdemenors, a felony or DWI? How about cheating on his wife or stretching the truth about a past incident?I"m sorry but I like my leaders with a little more backbone.

-- Posted by buyer beware on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 3:53 PM

Good column Gary well said.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 4:38 PM

What A joke. Gary Rust is so far from reality . He Needs to get out of his Cave. Peter Kinder is just plain creepy. He is being caught on several different items and all that Rust can do is blame the Democrats. Typical conservative tactic. If he runs he looses in a landslide. Not even the Limbaugh's can save him.

-- Posted by notorepublicans on Sat, Aug 27, 2011, at 2:22 PM

Mr. Rust, this may well be a newspaper you own, but journalistic integrity would dictate that you refrain from using it to promote your preferred candidate. That's very unprofessional.

-- Posted by sayswho? on Sat, Aug 27, 2011, at 3:52 PM

And, I would say that notorepublicans has a point. You, Mr. Rust, cannot change the fact that Mr. Kinder has found himself in some pretty unsavory situations. I have nothing against Mr. Kinder. As a matter of fact, I find him to be a very likeable guy, but the actions are a problem for me. I would like to see our politicians at least start out with a clean slate instead of having to excuse or downplay what is obviously a bad move on his part. Plus, he's WAY too old to be stopping off in pantless bars. Again, I agree with notorepublicans - that's just creepy!

-- Posted by sayswho? on Sat, Aug 27, 2011, at 3:57 PM


Good job in pointing out Peter Kinder's accomplishments. He has done a good job promoting conservative values. It's important that conservatives be reminded of what he has done for SE Missouri. You can be sure the liberals will go to great lengths to showcase all of Kinder's gaffs. And the fact is, conservatives are held to a higher standard than liberals. It's possible that Kinder does not meet the rigid standard. Maybe he should considering running as a Democrat. By doing so, he'd renders his visits to a strip club a mute point.

-- Posted by fightingindian on Sat, Aug 27, 2011, at 8:28 PM

Which conservative values do you agree with Fightingindian?

-- Posted by Theorist on Sun, Aug 28, 2011, at 12:54 PM

Peter has admitted he is not proud of some of establishments he visited as a single guy 15 years ago. His ability to get elected Governor is highly questionable at this time, but the election is 14 months away. Peter has a long and exemplary record of public service, and he is "right" on the issues that matter to most Missourians. In November 2012, voters are going to have a tough time voting for Obama or anyone, including Jay Nixon, who is an Obama supporter.

-- Posted by tom on Mon, Aug 29, 2011, at 12:53 AM

This reads more like an obit than a column. An inadvertent implication for Kinder's political career? Thanks, Gary.

-- Posted by EJ Rotert on Tue, Aug 30, 2011, at 2:43 PM

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