Sunday, April 26, 2009

Week 15: Nixon's Grade


Jay Nixon experienced a setback last Monday when the House dismantled the Governor's $100 million dollar fund for business incentives piece-by-piece. But it didn't seem to rattle the Governor, who went about promoting his summer jobs stimulus initiative -- another non-controversial, non-ideological plan that was widely accepted and praised. Ditto for his energy conservation plan. On the national scene, some Democrats are pushing the spectacularly controversial cap-and-trade. Nixon's asking state buildings to be more conscious about shutting the lights and computers off. Instead of blasting lawmakers, Nixon seemed to be using more carrots this week, using private meetings to lobby his Republican counterparts and expressing confidence that there's still the will and the time to push his major initiatives through the session. He even ended up on the House floor himself, praising legislators for their work on his chief economic initiative. "I wanted to make sure they knew I appreciated it," Nixon said to reporters. That was "Gentle, No Sweat" Jay on display. But Nixon knows the value of having political allies all around him. That's where the natural political animal comes out. Appointing the former chair of the Democratic Party to the state development finance board may be the right move. But it's certainly perceived as a political plum, and nothing really different than previous pols have done. The Governor was quick to personally distance himself from another "political play," when one of his appointees on the Veterans Commission attempted to oust the director. No direct fingerprints there, but too close for comfort. Nixon is part pragmatist, part pol. As Chad Livengood notes in a post from Springfield's Jackson Day event, Nixon pleaded for a Democratic Speaker of the House in 2010. Speaker Richard and Nixon have worked relatively well together this session and Richard has aggressively stumped for the Gov's jobs bill. But when it comes down to it, as much as the Nixon (or any Gov.) stresses bipartisanship, he only does that because he has to. It not only sounds nice, but it's political reality for him. A Democratic House in 2010 would change the game. Bipartisanship sounds great, but in the end, a lot of politics still comes down to what jersey you are wearing.

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