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Government, Politics & Issues

Politically Speaking: Rep. Curtman on Syria, stadiums and next year's elections

Paul Curtman
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On this week’s edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum welcome back state Rep. Paul Curtman to the program.

The Republican, from Union in Franklin County, first burst onto the scene in 2010, when he pulled off an upset against then-state Rep. Michael Frame, D-Eureka. Curtman’s victory was often spotlighted as a sign of strength for the “Tea Party” movement in Missouri, especially since the Marine Corps veteran gained notoriety in speaking out against President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

(Click here to listen to Curtman’s 2013 appearance on Politically Speaking.)

Now finishing off his fifth year in the Missouri House, Curtman is in charge of a committee examining state governmental efficiency, and has focused on state spending. He also played a major role in crafting an overhaul of municipal governance – especially in St. Louis County. He’s often been touted a rising star in Missouri politics, with some suggesting he should run for statewide or federal office in the future.

Here’s what Curtman had to say during the show:

  • Curtman is bullish about new House Speaker Todd Richardson’s future in the powerful position. He said the Poplar Bluff Republican set the right tone when he suddenly became speaker last May by not making a flashy speech. Instead, Richardson -- who came into office in the final days of the session -- extolled the Missouri House to focus on finishing its work.
  • Curtman was critical of how Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, declined to join a number GOP governors in calling for a slowdown or outright rejection of Syrian refugees. While expressing empathy about the plight of  the refugees, Curtman said governmental leaders needed to approach the situation cautiously.
  • Still, Curtman emphasized that he doesn’t think Muslim refugees should be put in a less advantageous situation than Christians when applying for asylum. “We kind of might betray some of our founding principles when we begin to segregate people into different groups,” he said. “So when it comes to the refugee status related to someone’s religion, I would say let’s do it on a first come, first serve basis. But when it comes to the Muslims from Syrian under these specific circumstances, there has to be an extremely … stringent vetting process. Because we know they’re coming from a country engaged in civil war. And one side of that civil war has declared Holy War on the U.S.”
  • When it comes to expending state money for a proposed riverfront stadium in St. Louis, Curtman opposes state help. “If there’s a market here for a football team, the people will gladly pay for it,” he said. “They’ll buy their tickets. They’ll buy their passes. Businesses will relocate to the state.”
  • Curtman has yet to endorse any of the five GOP candidates running governor. While he plans to run for re-election next year, he hasn’t ruled out running for another office when he’s termed out of the Missouri House after 2018.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Paul Curtman on Twitter: @paulcurtman

Music: “Dark Fantasy” by Kanye West

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