YET STILL PREDICTS NIXON WILL BE TOUGH TO BEATDick Morris tells the KY3 Political Notebook that State Treasurer Sarah Steelman would be a better Republican candidate than Congressman Kenny Hulshof to take on Democrat Jay Nixon in the fall because she's a proven statewide vote-getter without ties to Washington.
"The lesson of this year is that new, fresh forces of change prevail against the old entrenched power. If you put the three of them on the stage, the one that stands out as different, new and an agent of change is obviously Sarah Steelman," Morris said in a phone interview with me Monday afternoon.
Morris is hosting a gathering in St. Louis Monday night in support of Steelman's candidacy. He said he first got to know Steelman through her work to ensure that Missouri's tax dollars are not invested in companies or countries with ties to terrorism.
"She was the first State Treasurer to say funds wouldn't go to these companies. There was $200 billion dollars going to Iran, $4 billion in Missouri and she set in motion a chain of events to stop it," Morris said. Morris said he first heard about Steelman through Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan official who heads the right-of-center Center for Security Policy.
"She put a stop to this, and a bunch of other states in California, Florida and New York followed suit," Morris said.
On why he believes Steelman is stronger than Hulshof, Morris said "a federal politician going to the state level usually doesn't work." "What you're seeing is the party establishment running to back one of their own. But I think Sarah is a very strong candidate. On the issues, she's terrific, and there's very little difference ideologically between her and Hulshof. She's just got the innovative, creative ideas on her side," Morris said. "Kenny's just been a Washington politician, a reliable vote for the Republican party, and nothing else," he added.
Despite all this, Morris still said Attorney General Jay Nixon would be a tough opponent. "I think it will be hard for either of them to beat Nixon," Morris said. "But I do think in a bad economy, the state could look increasingly to a Republican. There will be pressure for tax increases in this campaign, and that could work in the Republican's favor," he said.
"You have to run someone that's not a rubber stamp, someone new, different, fresh," Morris said. He alluded to Barack Obama's campaign and the success that he has had, running against the establishment and bringing in new voters.
When asked if Steelman would be a stronger candidate than Gov. Matt Blunt, Morris replied, "I think Blunt would've been hobbled by a lot of things an incumbent Governor has to do. I think that might have been a factor in his decision not to run for re-election. But in a bad environment, a non-incumbent is always a better choice," Morris added.