The New York Times today chronicles Governor Nixon’s smart tactics in the battle over whether or not his veto of HB253, the GOP’s rope-a-dope tax cut bill, will stand. While it’s not a done deal, the Governor has at least put up a fight and has a strong chance of prevailing:
As a Democrat facing a State Legislature with veto-proof Republican majorities, Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri has not claimed big victories lately. So when he began stumping the state against a deep Republican tax cut that he had vetoed, he might have seemed to be on a political fool’s errand.
But over the summer, Mr. Nixon has turned the debate away from the Republican argument that lower taxes bring jobs and recast the tax cut as one that would hurt education and mental health services. The state’s school boards have rallied to his side. More than 100 of them have passed resolutions supporting the veto. And with a veto session set to begin on Wednesday, it is the supporters of the tax cut who are now pessimistic.
The most interesting part of the Times article, however, involved a comment from the brand new Chair of the Missouri Democratic party, Roy Temple:
“Democrats are often far too timid to stand up and call them [i.e., Republicans] out when they’re doing something that’s destructive,” said Roy Temple, the chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party, who spent several years in Washington as a political strategist. “There’s no political risk for pointing out when they’re doing things the wrong way.”
Welcome words after years of watching our state’s leading Democrats quake and quail in the wake of the Tea Party rout of 2010. Maybe it won’t only be the Governor who has discovered that he actually has a spine (although it may be the term-limited Nixon’s political ambitions that have lead to that belated discovery). Wouldn’t it be great to see Claire McCaskill shut-up about budget caps and come out swinging for measures to combat climate change?
Dream on you say – and you’re probably right. The more important point, however, is that Temple’s remarks may signal a change in the state Democratic Party strategies and tactics which have been the very definition of timid – when they even exist. Maybe Temple will be the man who can not only build a strong, efficient organizational structure to serve the state’s Democrats, but can help to articulate a smart, aggressive strategy to help revive the party’s fortunes in Missouri.
Perhaps I’m reading too much into a few casual words. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking – God knows there’s been little to nothing in the state to be positive about apart from Jay Nixon’s veto pen. But we have seen remarkable politicians emerge in the midst of red-state deserts – just think of Wendy Davis in Texas. Whether she runs for Governor next year or not, and whether or not she wins if she does run, she has established a beach-head for change. Here in Missouri we also have some thoughtful and articulate Democrats in our state legislature and elsewhere – but what we lack is a strong party organizational structure – something other than a lapdog for prominent state Democrats – to recognize and support their talents.