Gubernatorial candidates play nice at Neosho campaign stop

Wes Franklin

A month ago, one state newspaper called the continued squabbling between Republican gubernatorial hopefuls Kenny Hulshof and Sarah Steelman “disgusting.”

However, the two opponents in next Tuesday’s primary election played nice Monday night at Neosho’s Big Spring Park, speaking to a 300-strong crowd at a watermelon feed put on by the Republican Women of Newton County and the Newton County Republican Committee.

Instead, the duo avoided references to each other, alternately presenting themselves as conservative Republicans and pointing their campaign guns at Democrat state Attorney General Jay Nixon, the man one of them will likely face this November in the general election for the governor’s mansion, depending on who voters pick in Tuesday’s primary race.

Hulshof represents northeast/east central Missouri in Washington as a five-term U.S. Congressman. Steelman is now state treasurer, elected in 2004 after serving six years in the Missouri Senate.

Steelman, who spoke first as per ballot order, called up her legislative record in the state Senate, wherein she was responsible for drafting the “marriage amendment” to the state constitution, defining marriage as between one man and one woman. As a state senator, Steelman also voted to ban partial birth abortion and in her speech Monday took a jab at Nixon for his pro-choice stance.

She continued by mentioning her fiscal conservativeness while State Treasurer.

“I have worked hard to protect and respect your tax dollars, because that’s what they are — your hard-earned dollars,” Steelman said. “And I’ve always understood that.”

As treasurer, Steelman noted how she cut off taxpayer-funded investments in foreign

companies that did business with terror-sponsoring countries like Iran, North Korea and Sudan.

She also mentioned that she had a pulse on how bad people are actually hurting because of high fuel and food prices. 

Crisscrossing the state in a travel bus, Steelman called her last big meet-and-greet push before the primary the “kitchen table tour”, since talking with voters about issues important to them was much like having discussions around the family kitchen table, she said.

“And that’s the kind of government I want to have in Jefferson City,” Steelman stated. “I want to have a government where everyone, all the people of the state, feel like they have a voice and a seat at that kitchen table. And I’m going to be a governor who listens to you.”

Addressing the fiercely partisan crowd, Hulshof began his own oratory by slamming Nixon for wanting to take the state back to the days before Republicans took control of the legislative and executive branches in Jefferson City. He contended that those were the days of “abusive lawsuits, raising taxes and an unbalanced budget.”

“We can’t afford the government that Jay Nixon wants to give us,” Hulshof stated. “And that’s why this election is so important.”

He named himself an “unapologetic conservative”, and threw in the fact that he is both pro-life and pro-2nd Amendment, also noting his strong backing of business growth in the state.

Hulshof noted it had been a tough campaign — one that has been particularly noted for its attack rhetoric — and drew attention in the crowd to a 20s-something man with a video camera whom he said Nixon had hired to follow him around and tape his speeches.

But he said the sacrifices of being away from family, explaining to his kids how the attack ads weren’t true, having reporters dig through his tax records and past murder cases from when he was a state special prosecutor, were all “worth it.”

“It’s worth it because our state is worth it,” Hulshof said. “It’s worth all the whatever personal anguish because we are blessed in this state with all the abundant resources we have and, more importantly, we are blessed as Missouri people.”

As throughout the campaign, Hulshof stressed his rural America values Monday night, quoting the Bible, talking about his “common farm-folk” parents and referring to his farming and small business background.

“Ladies and gentlemen, that’s who I am, I think our better days are ahead of us in our state, and if you agree with me and believe that Missouri can go to a place she’s never been before, well, my name is Kenny Hulshof and I’d be honored to have your support,” he said to loud cheers.

Neosho Daily News