Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Republican State Senator Switches Parties

The big political story of the day is Republican state Sen. Chris Koster's announcement that he's switching political parties.

In an announcement today, Sen. Koster said he could no longer stay in a party that caters to the extreme right wing.

“At such a juncture, a man can either change his beliefs in order to preserve his party or a man can change his party in order to preserve his beliefs. Today I choose the latter. I am a Democrat," said Koster in his announcement.

The Columbia Tribune's Jason Rosenbaum has all the goodies, starting here.

The move has caused shockwaves through the Missouri political establishment. The Missouri Republican Party called the move political calculus. Jared Craighead, the executive director of the Missouri G.O.P. said Koster, who wants to run for Attorney General, doesn't believe he can win a Republican primary.

“Republicans are surprised that Senator Koster who has championed so many Republican causes, participated in leadership of the Senate Republican Caucus and served as a member of the Republican State Committee would decide suddenly that he is a Democrat. Chris is a personal friend of mine but I fear he has blinded himself with his desire for higher office and the hollow promises of Jay Nixon’s political machine rather than keeping his commitment to the constituents who elected him to represent them," Craighead said in a prepared statement.

"I expect that Chris will resign from the Senate immediately and stand for election as a Democrat in a special election so that the people of the 31st Senatorial District have an opportunity to decide whether they want him representing them now that he has totally reversed his positions on important issues like gay marriage, Second Amendment rights and Medicaid reform," Craighead added.

The Missouri Democratic Party released a much shorter statement, focusing on how this move shows the "extremism" of Gov. Matt Blunt's party.

"This announcements shows just how extreme and out of touch Matt Blunt and other Republican leaders have become,” said Jack Cardetti, Missouri Democratic Party spokesman. “You know there are problems in Missouri when a former Republican Attorney General candidate can’t stomach the direction Matt Blunt is taking this state.

“We are pleased that Sen. Koster is following the lead of Republicans and Independents across the state and rejecting Matt Blunt’s failed policies and embracing the mainstream priorities of the Democratic Party,” Cardetti said.

Koster could now face Democratic House Minority Leader Jeff Harris and Rep. Margaret Donnelly in a scrambled Democratic primary for Attorney General.

Rep. Donnelly also sent out a release questioning Koster's dedication to Democratic issues like health care.

"For the past 30 years, I have stood up for Missouri families by championing Democratic values such as access to health care. In voting to support the Medicaid cuts of the past two years, Senator Koster has made it clear that he does not share those values. The voters of Missouri want stability and commitment not political opportunism in the next Attorney General," Donnelly said in a release.

Now around the horn:
Where does Koster see his support coming from in the Democratic Party? Is Koster smart to switch teams or a political opportunist? Maybe we should've seen this coming? After all, Koster did get some gifts from trial attorneys. But could Koster be the biggest loser in the end?

1 comment:

maximus bevo said...

Koster may be a political opportunist out of the mold of U.S. Senator "Jumping" Jim Jeffords (R,D-Vermont), but he is a pretty bright guy.

Regardless of the criticism he is receiving by potential democrat opponents in the AG primary and other lower level dems, the party apparatus lead by Jay Nixon had to make some type of generous deal to get Senator Koster to make the switch.

Otherwise what incentive would there be for Koster to switch? In the next couple of months I fully suspect that the Democrat leadership will fully unite by Koster for AG and leave Harris and Donnelly out in the cold. Politics can be very sobering at times.