Kinder helped reshape politics in Missouri

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

As Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has reached the end of his tenure in that position, we acknowledge with gratitude his 24 years of public service. The Cape Girardeau native has much to be proud of as he looks back over a career that has left its mark on the state of Missouri.

Politics in the state definitely look different now than when he won his first election for state senator in 1992. At that time, "the Democrats controlled everything," he recalled to the Southeast Missourian's Mark Bliss. He was a part of the transformative process that saw the seeming "permanent minority" of Republicans into the longstanding majority. It was quite the shift, perhaps much like the shift national politics saw in the 2016 presidential race. Kinder was not expected to win; in fact, polling indicated he would be trounced. He won -- and continued to win.

In 2004, he won his bid for lieutenant governor and won again in 2008 and 2012. Throughout his years in the post, his voice resonated with the people of Missouri. Though known as a conservative firebrand, people respected him for his dignified approach. His conservative worldview and his outstate base of support did not keep him from reaching across the aisle or from trying to assist in our state's metropolitan areas.

Kinder detailed some of his accomplishments: cutting budgets, securing funding for the creation of Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus, erection of Cape Girardeau's new Career and Technology Center and helping to establish a new state prison in Charleston alongside Democratic leaders in the Bootheel. And who can forget his position as campaign manager for Republican congressional candidate Bill Emerson, who experienced his own spate of victories?

Kinder's career was not without controversy, but his hard work, historical knowledge and humor explain why he remains highly regarded and why we will miss his voice in Jefferson City. Kinder admits he will miss the job, as well, particularly "working with good people." Politics is, after all, a "people business," he said.

So what does the future hold for Kinder? Is he done with politics? We don't know. He said he is investigating two or three different private-sector opportunities. Whatever road he travels, his track record suggests he will give it 100 percent and experience success. What we do know is Cape Girardeau remains in his heart and, he said, "always will be home." We thank him for his service to the state and wish him well.

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