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Lager still challenging Kinder for lieutenant governor, but Schmitt's not

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 6, 2011 - State Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah, says his new legislative effort to ask Missouri voters to impose a two-term limit on all statewide officeholders has nothing to do with his continued 2012 campaign for lieutenant governor, which at the moment pits him against incumbent Peter Kinder, a fellow Republican seeking a third term.

Lager emphasized in an interview that his proposed constitutional amendment wouldn't affect Kinder's quest. Even if the amendment is approved by voters in 2012, Lager said, no statewide officials would be affected until the 2014 election (when state auditor would be on the ballot).

The proposal, which Lager plans to put before the General Assembly next session, calls for a ballot measure asking voters to impose two-term limits on the lieutenant governor, auditor, secretary of state and attorney general. Such a restriction already is in place for the governor and state treasurer.

"In theory, (Kinder) could serve two more times," Lager said.

But in practice, as for 2012, "voters will have to make up their minds if Peter Kinder deserves a third term," said Lager.

Lager's continued candidacy, in the wake of Kinder's change of heart, implies that Lager believes that Kinder does not deserve an additional term.

In the interview, Lager did not say that. When he did say was that he and Kinder had a "very cordial, very respectful" meeting last week in Jefferson City.

While not getting into the particulars, Lager said the two discussed their respective reasons for running for lieutenant governor (and, presumably, Kinder's reasons for not running for governor, and Lager's reasons for not dropping out).

Speaking for himself, Lager said, that "none of those (reasons) have changed," noting that he had announced for lieutenant governor before Kinder's change in political plans.

"We had a really good meeting," Lager said., "He (Kinder) understands the unfortunate situation I find myself in."

Lager reaffirmed his belief that he sees the lieutenant governor's job as a way to promote the idea that the best way to improve Missouri is to create "a climate where innovators and job creators want to come to our state."

Missouri's future, he said, depends on dealing with the key issues of public education, infrastructure needs, public safety and caring for those who most need it: in particular, the elderly and military veterans.

Lager's proposals also would seem to touch on Missouri's income tax debate. But he said he was still studying the proposals to do away with Missouri's income tax and replace it with a sales tax, and had yet to take a position.

He emphasized that he did support taking action to make Missouri's tax code simpler and to "eliminate special carve-outs" of tax benefits for certain types of businesses or activities.

Schmitt out As Lieutenant Governor Hopeful

By the way, another Republican who had been pondering a lieutenant governor bid -- state Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale -- said he definitely will not challenge Kinder. Instead, Schmitt will seek re-election.

He said in an interview that redistricting will change some of his 15th District (it's basically moved a bit north and west), but the core communities of Webster Groves and Kirkwood remain. Schmitt said he looked forward to representing the remapped district.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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