Thursday, January 17, 2008

Whispers In Capitol Corridors

Made the long-haul to Jefferson City Wednesday to view the State of the State hangover in person. Talked to lawmakers, legislative aides, even a few lobbyists. Politicos say the darndest things when the camera isn't rolling and my pen isn't writing.
Here's what they aren't saying publicly, but whispering privately:
  • GRIN, AND BARE IT - Did Jay Nixon really walk out 10 minutes in, as the G.O.P. claims? G.O.P. spin on the State of the State: Blunt looked animated, ready for a fight. One senior Republican House member called Nixon's rebuttal "poor," not necessarily on substance but style. DEM spin: They just get agitated at Blunt's infamous smile. "I could barely watch it," said one feisty female House Democratic staffer. "I just wanted to wipe that grin right off his face."
  • SPEND-A-THON - Republican lawmakers are a bit concerned about the amount of spending priorities detailed by the Governor and the total cost. Not many would fully commit to any, without seeing the details -- which is prudent. Some also seem bitter about the lack of details provided by Blunt's office. "We know as much as you guys in the media do. They don't release a great amount of specificity," one Republican member said.
  • ANYBODY BUT HILLARY - Democratic lawmakers, particularly outstate, fear a Hillary Clinton nomination. It's pretty fair to say a significant amount of them don't want her on the top of the Missouri ticket in 2008. "It'll just kill us," said one rural Senate Democrat. John Edwards would be best for outstate, but a lot of Dems like Barack Obama's spark. Still, in their judgement, Hillary would hurt local and statewide candidates most.
  • WHO DO WE LIKE? WE LIKE MIKE - Mike Huckabee is expected to soon receive 4 more endorsements from Missouri lawmakers. The Huckabee campaign could release the names as soon as Thursday. Still, even some Huckabee supporters acknowledge privately they see him more likely as a vice-presidential candidate. Plus, where does Huck go when he makes his Missouri visit? To the conservative southwest Missouri bastion? Between media markets? It's being debated now.

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