JOPLIN, Mo. —
Area Republicans kicked off what will be a less active campaign season on Saturday with the annual Jasper-Newton County Lincoln Day banquet in Joplin.
The season this year won’t include a presidential contest, and the only statewide race is for state auditor. On Saturday, Tom Schweich, the GOP incumbent for that position, asked for local support for an additional term.
He and other speakers at the gathering cited the importance of Jasper and Newton counties as a Republican stronghold in the state, and several speakers noted that the Lincoln Day gathering serves as the kickoff for regional events that will culminate with the state convention later this month in Springfield.
The approximately 350 Republicans who gathered on Saturday at the Butcher’s Block Banquet Center on Fountain Road heard from Schweich as the keynote speaker, as well as U.S. Rep. Billy Long; state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, of Columbia; Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, of Eureka; and state Sen. Ron Richard, of Joplin, the majority leader in the Senate.
Schweich acknowledged that 2014 won’t be “the most important” election year but that Republicans still must work to keep veto-proof majorities in the Missouri House and Senate and build momentum for 2016.
He said Democrats also have won more statewide races than Republicans because they have shown more discipline and avoided primary races that turned into battles within the party.
Jones also cited Democrats’ dominance among statewide races, noting that a Democrat has held the governor’s office for 20 of the last 24 years and the attorney general’s office for the last 24 years. He said the House this session will work to remove barriers to growth in the state by cutting taxes and to “make Missouri the 25th right-to-work state.”
He also predicted a battle with Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon over spending issues, saying the governor wants to increase the state budget by $1 billion to expand entitlements.
Schaefer, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, agreed. He said Republican estimates of incoming revenue don’t square with the governor’s projections, adding, “We’ll be conservatives.”
Richard said the Senate also will be working on tort reform and medical malpractice. He also praised his wife, Patty, who has been lobbying on behalf of a breast cancer awareness proposal and spoke to legislators in Jefferson City last week.
“She’s talked to all the senators on both sides of the aisle, and it’s the only consent bill on the calendar,” he said.
Long noted retirement announcements from a number of longtime Democrat members of the U.S. House, adding, “They’re giving up in the House to try to save the Senate.”
He said he believes Republicans can take back the upper chamber, which he said would trigger action on measures “to make the U.S. the best place in the world to do business.”
Kansas City bid
A late addition to the program Saturday was Catherine Hanaway, a former speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives who is now a Republican National Committee member. She said Kansas City is a top contender to serve as host for the Republican National Convention in 2016.