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Tony Messenger’s article in the Monday P-D points out that trial lawyers and the businesses they sue are battling it out in the Missouri governor’s race. And their weapon of choice is money. Nixon is getting his biggest campaign contributions–$400,000 so far–from trial lawyers, and Hulshof is getting his biggest from … well, that’s a little trickier to figure out.

I would say that the money is coming from the businesses in danger of being sued, but despite all the Republican claims that lifting the campaign finance limits would at least provide transparency, we knew that wouldn’t really happen, and it hasn’t. Hulshof’s biggest supporter, so far, for example, is the Republican Governor’s Association–to the tune of $600,000. And, as Messenger points out, the RGA gets a lot of its moolah from drug companies seeking protection from possible lawsuits:

Pfizer Inc., Eli Lilli & Co. and Glaxosmithkline each gave more than $300,000 to the RGA in the 2008 election cycle.

So the connection between Eli Lilly and Hulshof is blurred, but what-the-hell-ever. The battle lines have been drawn and everybody knows it.

As a Democrat, I’m torn. Personal injury lawyers aren’t among my heroes.  When a victim of corporate carelessness succeeds in court, I know that his lawyer takes a huge chunk of change. Many people think personal injury lawyers are just scummy ambulance chasers, but I remind myself that Erin Brockovich worked for one of them. And remember, we don’t want victims to be without legal redress when, say, Merck & Co. sells Vioxx, knowing that it could have deadly consequences.

Ambivalent as I am about such lawyers, I’m still a little surprised that the right wing has so successfully demonized them among Republicans. I thought Republicans adored the entrepreneurial spirit, the independent guy who stands up by himself and succeeds. Isn’t that why they like their guns, because those weapons represent the go-it-alone spirit and their refusal to depend on welfare?

Apparently, I don’t understand the macho spirit, but I know this much. I want us little guys to be able to stand up to the money bosses. Nixon will need a bundle of boodle to deep-six Hulshof, and I like knowing that he’s getting it because he wants people harmed by corporate mischief to have legal recourse. Yes, it’s too bad they have to hand a third or half of the proceeds over to their lawyer, but at least they have a chance to bring corporations to account. And at least we’re going to have a governor who understands that.

Photos courtesy of the Post-Dispatch online