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Democratic Attorney General Debate in Kansas City, part 1

The candidates: (from left to right) Margaret Donnelly, Jeff Harris, Chris Koster

The order for opening statements was determined at random. The candidate statements:  

Margaret Donnelly: Good evening. Thank you to CCP, the UMKC Young Democrats for hosting the event, and also to the University for providing such an outstanding location. Also like to thank all of our moderators for taking the time to participate tonight.

Growing up as a middle child of eleven kids I learned two important life lessons, besides getting to the shower line early. [laughter] That’s to stand up for your beliefs and to protect others. And those are the principles which have guided my career in law and in public service.

For twenty years I’ve been in court rooms fighting for Missouri’s families in some of the toughest situations. I’ve represented women who have been beaten by their husbands. And I’ve tried case after case to protect children from the adults who have physically and sexually abused them. In the legislature I battled those who wanted to cut the health care benefits for our most vulnerable and I worked to stiffen the penalties for those who would commit abuse and exploit senior citizens.  I was successful in passing laws to crack down on drunk drivers and to strengthen the laws against sexual assault and domestic violence. It is this commitment to protecting Missouri’s families that I will take to the Attorney General’s office.

I travel the state and I’ve heard the concerns. Parents who are worried about the safety of their children from sexual predators. Senior citizens and their families who are trying to protect themselves and their loved ones from the latest financial scam. Consumers who feel insecure because of identity theft and the unsafe products flooding our shelves from China and other countries. And neighborhood leaders who are concerned that the stability and safety of their communities are threatened by drugs and violence. As Attorney General I will remember those two life lessons. To stand up for our Democratic beliefs and to protect others. No one will stand straighter or fight harder for Missouri’s families. Thank you. [applause]

Chris Koster: A political campaign is like a job interview, so I begin this like we would begin any job interview, with a resume. My name is Chris Koster. I’m 43 years old. I have a law degree from the University of Missouri, Columbia and a Masters in Business Administration from Washington University, St. Louis. I spent two years as Assistant Attorney General to this state, for ten year I was Prosecuting Attorney of Cass County in Missouri. And I’ve served the past four years as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I’ve prosecuted approximately twenty homicide cases in our area. I have two Supreme Court victories and thousands of felony convictions in this state.

Over the past four years I have sponsored or passed more than thirty advancements in the civil and criminal laws of this state. In two thousand and five I fought back Republican efforts to criminalize stem cell research and the life saving cures they bring. In two thousand and six I passed the landmark eminent domain legislation to restrict government from seizing our private property. And in two thousand and seven I passed the green power initiative, which will lead to more than a billion dollars in new wind farms and hydro-electric energy development in our state by 2020.

The Missouri Bar Association has given me their Outstanding Legislator Award three of the last three years. Missouri Lawyers Weekly has named me one of the ten most influential lawyers in the State of Missouri for my work on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys has given me their Legislator of the Year Award.

In two thousand and seven I left the Republican Party and asked to join the Democratic Party, because after three years I increasingly saw only Democratic solutions to the problems facing our state. Stem cell research, worker’s rights, respect for the judiciary, health care, higher education funding and an authentic relationship with the minority communities in our state. I could change my beliefs in order to preserve my party, or I could change my party in order to preserve my beliefs. I made my choice. I’m proud of my choice. I would like to continue to serve our state and our Democratic Party as Attorney General. But ultimately, as it should be, that choice will belong to you. [applause]

Jeff Harris: David, thank you. And I want to thank the CCP, and the UMKC Young Democrats, and everyone here for joining us this evening in sponsoring what I hope will be a very informative discussion and some illumination as to what we all believe in, what we stand for, and what we intend to do if we were elected Attorney General.

You know, they say that if you want to know where a person is going look at where they’ve been. And I’m proud of where I’ve been. In 2004, when it was literally our toughest time as a Democratic Party in this state, right after the 2004 election, my colleagues turned to me and unanimously elected me the Democratic Leader of the Missouri House. And as the Democratic Leader of the Missouri House I fought tooth and nail every single day for our values. I’m proud to say that I lead the fight against the hateful, immoral, and irresponsible Medicaid cuts that this governor put forward and his rubber stamp allies in the General Assembly passed. I’m proud to say that as the Democratic Leader in the House I lead the fight against the unconstitutional photo ID bill that would have disenfranchised so many Missourians across the state. So that’s where I’ve been.

Where I will be, as our future, as our next Attorney General will be on your side. And fighting the same fight for the values that I’ve fought for as the Democratic Leader, and as an Assistant Attorney General under Jay Nixon. If you want an Attorney General who’s going to stand up for the every day Missourian, who will be a protector of the consumers of this state, then I’m your person. Whether it means standing up against predatory lenders who, who foist sub prime mortgages on home owners across this state. Whether it means payday lenders, standing up against them. Whether it means making sure that our natural resources are protected against corporate factory farms, I am your person.

As Attorney General we will create great change across this state, but I’m not gonna change one thing about who I am. I’m gonna do the same thing I’ve always done as the Democratic Leader and in public service, and that’s work as hard as I can, fight the good fight as hard as I can, and I’m gonna be on the very same side I have always been on. And that’s on your side. Thank you very much. [applause]