Koster: Greitens will 'blow up' Missouri government

Perhaps Chris Koster was riled by the conservative political operative with the video camera, ready to record his every move. Maybe he had some extra energy because he was passionate about meeting his supporters, or because he was heated about his Republican opposition.

It might have just been that it was his birthday.

Whatever the reason, Koster, 52, brought a little fire with him to a campaign stop Wednesday at Big Momma's Coffee and Espresso Bar on a gray, rainy Springfield morning.

About three dozen people were on hand to see the Missouri attorney general and Democratic candidate for governor. After he was introduced by Crystal Quade, a Democrat running to be District 132's state representative, Koster talked about education and rural health care and accused his Republican opponent of fanning the flames of partisan anger.

Koster, a Republican before he switched parties, had some choice words for the GOP. In particular, he likened Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to Eric Greitens, the former Navy SEAL and former Democrat who now is running for governor as a Republican and political outsider.

"Donald Trump took hold of kind of a blow-it-up wing, blow-up-government wing of the Republican party, and now my opponent in the gubernatorial race here in the state of Missouri has campaigned as the candidate for the blow-it-up wing of the Republican party," Koster said to the crowd. "They're just going to go into Jefferson City and blow it up, change things without knowing what the heck they're doing.

"Because I can tell you, I've watched this guy for the last six months and from everything I can tell, he knows nothing about how government operates in Jefferson City."

Greitens' campaign manager, Austin Chambers, called Koster "a typical out-of-touch politician" in a statement.

"But he is right about one thing: Eric Greitens is going to change things in Jeff City, because government isn't working right now," Chambers said. "Only a career politician like Chris Koster who has been in office 20 years would defend the status quo and want to continue doubling down on failure. Eric Greitens will take Missouri in a new direction, where Missouri families and jobs come first."

Greitens spoke to his own supporters at a rally in Springfield last week. He talked in that speech about the "great tragedy of Ferguson," during which people took to the streets after a white police officer shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown in August 2014, and called Koster a corrupt liberal.

Like Koster, Springfield real estate agent Phyllis Netzer was critical of Greitens, whose gubernatorial ad campaign has included a 30-second spot in which Greitens takes "dead aim at politics as usual" and causes an explosion by firing a rifle.

"Why anybody would vote for that guy who shoots up hillsides is beyond me," Netzer said.

Netzer and others in the audience, which included several educators, told the News-Leader they hoped Koster would talk about education, and he obliged them, saying that properly funding public schools was essential for the economy.

His speech on school funding started in the early 1990s, when then-Gov. Mel Carnahan, a Democrat, led a push for the passage of Senate Bill 380, boosting Missouri school budgets by more than $300 million.

Since then, Koster said, Republican legislators have taken big steps backward with allocations to K-12 spending. He also raised a note of concern about Missouri school districts where kids go to school four days a week, which fell flat in the coffee shop, before pivoting to rural health issues.

Koster said that Missouri might as well come to terms with the federal health care legislation informally known as "Obamacare."

"There are people in this room, I'm sure, who don't like their boss every day, but I bet you cash your check every month," he said. "If the Affordable Care Act is here to stay, then we as Missourians need to do what's smart, and invest the money in the people of this state."

Koster had previously opposed Obamacare. He made national headlines five years ago when he filed a brief in federal court to try to block the program.

In the back of the room, Derick Barnes with the Laborers Local Union No. 633 stood with other union activists for a different reason. Barnes said he supported Koster because he believes the Democrat would reject any so-called "right-to-work" legislation, which would prohibit workers from being required to join a union. Barnes said passing such a law would result in lower wages for Missouri's workers.

"Basically, if Koster loses, Missouri will be right-to-work by May," Barnes said.


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment