The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

September 24, 2012

Sunday Forum: Candidates with unique histories vie to be Missouri attorney general

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri voters will decide this November between two candidates with unique political histories who want to be the next attorney general.

Chris Koster, the Democrat, is seeking re-election for a second term. Five years ago he switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party ahead of his 2008 run for attorney general.

Ed Martin, the Republican, is a former chief of staff for former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt who became involved in a highly publicized fight with Scott Eckersley over email practices.

Courtroom Experience

Koster, a former Cass County Prosecutor turned state senator, touts his experience in the courtroom, going face-to-face with criminals.

“It matters when you are running this office that you understand law enforcement,” he said during a stop in Neosho this summer, highlighting his work on homicide cases during his tenure as prosecutor. “It matters that you know your way around the courtroom. It matters that you’ve tried these cases.”

Like most of the Democrats running statewide in Missouri this year, Koster has made an effort to distance himself from issues trumpeted by national Democratic leaders and candidates who are unpopular in Missouri. In Koster’s case, he has sought to put distance between himself and other Democrats by criticizing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

During the August 2010 primary election — a mostly Republican primary — 70 percent of voters approved Proposition C, a ballot measure that declared Missouri’s opposition to the individual mandate provision of the new federal health care law.

After enormous political pressure from statewide Republicans (including Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who filed his own legal challenge to law), Koster split with other Democrats and joined a constitutional challenge filed in Florida over the individual mandate provision.

Last month, Koster again distanced himself from his party and the Affordable Care Act when a Cole County court overturned ballot language — written by Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan — pertaining to the provision of the health care law ordering states to establish state-level health care exchanges. After calls from Democrats, including a swiping public statement from Carnahan, Koster decided against defending her choice of ballot language in court.

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