Sunday, March 01, 2009

Week 7: Nixon's Grade


After launching a website where the public can offer up their own ideas for the stimulus funds, Governor Nixon hopscotched across the state to make sure he was included in the stories about job gains in Republic and Kansas City. The hundreds of jobs announced in the two cities doesn't make up for the 11,500 lost in January, but Nixon's team is making sure to highlight and be associated with the bright spots. On the announcement of 400 new jobs at McLane in Republic, it was also about the way the Governor did it. He invited two Republican state representatives and a GOP state Senator to accompany him on the plan trip down, and he lavished praise on them publicly for helping lure the company to the area to set up shot. Rep. Jim Viebrock, one of the lawmakers who made the trip, wrote glowingly of the ride down in his weekly report. He wrote that the gesture gave him an opportunity to get to know the Governor better and understand his positions. It was smart politics for Nixon, and when he needs Republican votes down the road, Rep. Viebrock may think about that plane ride. (A key benchmark for Nixon will come in March to see if the Senate delivers a Quality Jobs bill by spring break, as he's requested.) He confronted his tougher challenge mid-week: expanding health care. It was the cornerstone of Nixon's campaign. At a rally in the Capitol Rotunda Wednesday, a sign greeted the Governor: "Keep your promise." But Republicans have already stripped out his mid-year request to extend coverage to 16,000 children. On budget paper, bringing back all the old Medicaid enrollees looks virtually impossible. Nixon gets high marks for his focus on the economy this week, but if he's unable to somehow deliver some progress on his healthcare pledge, he'll certainly have a lot to explain to those who showed up to see him in the Rotunda this week.

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