The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

September 25, 2011

Susan Redden: Kinder not officially running, but he’s raising money

By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder last week rebuffed questions about his plans to run for governor, but at the same time he held a successful political fundraiser in Springfield.

In comments at a stop last week at the Joplin Senior Center, Kinder also said an announcement will come this fall, and that meetings with Republican party leaders around Missouri “are going great.”

Kinder began scheduling the meetings after reports surfaced involving an exotic dancer at a club he acknowledged that he frequented in the 1990s when he was serving in the Missouri Senate. He said he agreed to pose for a photograph recently when he encountered the woman when he stopped to use the restroom at a bar where she worked. He denied claims by the woman that he allegedly had pursued a relationship with her. He said he visited the club about 10 times before deciding that being there ran counter to his beliefs.

“We’re putting that all behind us,” Kinder said last week in Joplin.

The revelation about Kinder brought criticism from some Republican backers, including Joplin businessman David Humphreys. After donating $165,000 to Kinder in this election cycle, Humphreys demanded his donations back and said Kinder should abandon the race.

Kinder last week said he had not met with Humphreys, but he did say there had been “communications” between the two and that a meeting was planned.

“Nothing has been returned,” he added.

Kinder also said he has been “all over Southwest Missouri” for meetings with political leaders and that he was just beginning a statewide tour.

“It’s going great; people have been very supportive,” he said.

More than $90,000 was raised at a Springfield fundraiser that featured Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Role with Romney

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., will reprise a role he took on in 2000, this time backing Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican nomination for president.

Blunt will work to bring other GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate into the fold for the former Massachusetts governor. The senator announced his support for Romney last week, saying Romney’s experience as governor and in the private sector gives him “the right background to help create more economic certainty and spur job growth in Missouri and nationwide.”

While a congressman, Blunt played the same role in 2000 when George W. Bush was making his first run for the White House. Blunt is a member of the Senate leadership team; he was in House leadership when he stumped for Bush.

Blunt’s son, former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, backed Romney four years ago, while Roy Blunt took no position until after the primary. Matt Blunt serves on the board of an equity firm started by Romney’s son, Tagg.

Jackson Days

Clint Zweifel will be the guest speaker at a Jackson Days West event set for Oct. 15 in Joplin.

Zweifel was elected state treasurer in November 2008, becoming Missouri’s youngest state treasurer in 100 years. Before his election, he was a member of the Missouri House of Representatives from the St. Louis area for six years.

The event is geared toward raising money for a full-time executive director for Democrats in Southwest Missouri. The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the IBEW Hall at 3316 Hearnes Blvd. The session will include a catered dinner and a second speaker. More details are to be announced later, organizers said. Admission will be $25.

Susan Redden is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at sredden@joplinglobe.com or 417-623-3480, ext. 7258.