Sarah Steelman and Kenny Hulshof met for their final debate before next month’s primary. The debate was hosted by KY3, a Springfield, MO NBC affiliate. As with the KMOX debate I took down some notes on their responses to the questions. I have also included my thoughts (including an endorsement) at the end. I have included links to the video of each question. Just follow the link on the question number to launch the video.
Hulshof: Missouri is at a cross-road. He skips right over Steelman and goes after Nixon. He quotes the 1 in 5 on state aid just as he did yesterday on KMOX radio in St. Louis. It is pretty much the same script as yesterday. He hits on Steelman at the end of the statement summed up as: She’s beating up on me.
Steelman: Elections are about choices. We are similar: pro-life, second amendments. But the two have differences: tax payer money is your money while Hulshof has been voting for wasteful spending; Hulshof is ok with legislators voting for their own personal interest; and the differences on the ethanol mandate. Hulshof is aligned with special interests while she wants to govern for the people.
What you think Blunt’s biggest mistake was? Accomplishment?
Steelman: His biggest mistake was his approach. You need more people involved in the process to feel like they make a difference in the process. He has been able to create a favorable business environment and the budget is now in surplus.
Hulshof: Biggest accomplishment is his economic record: budget from deficit to surplus and tort reform (a difference between himself and Nixon/Steelman. He would have addressed the Medicaid issue differently (but offers no specifics).
Steelman: She comes back on tort reform. She says that she supports it and has actually sponsored a tort reform bill in the past.
Why have you not presented a plan to help cover the uninsured? (It polled as a top issue in Missouri)
Hulshof: He claims that gas prices and jobs have edged out the healthcare issue. Everyone back on government rolls is not the solution. It would break the budget. He wants a more patient-focused system with wellness as a primary concern. He advocates integration of care for the chronically ill.
Steelman: Unfortunately KY3’s video online breaks off and I don’t get more than her empathizing with Missourians for the rising costs. Tony Messenger of the Political Fix Blog of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has this to say:
Steelman is suggesting Missouri should look to the Florida model. “I’m anxious to get started on that,” she says. And she trots out the old Blunt favorite: We should look for waste, fraud and abuse.
What is your position on stem cell research?
Steelman: She is pro-life and always has been. She is against stem cell research. She would have opposed Proposition 2( Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative) and would work to repeal it.
Hulshof: Adult stem cells are providing a viable alternative to the destruction of life to create embryonic stem cells. He questions Steelman’s campaign accepting money from a stem cell booster. He feels that she may have a conflict of interest.
Steelman: Hulshof took thousands from the same research institute and invests in stem cell researchers.
Question 4: The Candidates Question Each Other
Steelman for Hulshof: Why did you vote to allow the use of an unreliable Mexican ID and allow Mexican truckers access to U.S. roads?
Hulshof: He has a strong record on border enforcement. He wants to build the fence. He stands on his record that has been cited favorable by others.
Hulshof to Steelman: How is authoring legislation that lets utilities companies circumvent the Public Service Commission for the people?
Steelman: That’s not what that bill did. It allows for full review of utility company costs periodically and justification of rates.
What is your administrative and executive experience? (This is in relation to Hulshof being passed up for the President of the Board of the University of Missouri. He said that his resume was deficient in administrative experience after the fact.)
Hulshof: He said that the decision came down to the board wanting someone that had CEO experience. He wants the voters to rely on his experience as a farmer (small-business owner), a prosecutor and twelve years as a legislator.
Steelman: Her executive experience comes from holding the State Treasurer office. Her office is responsible for $3.5 – 4BB in investments. She is responsible for growing the economy while her opponent is responsible for growing the deficits in Washington. She has experience as the Executive Director of Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Rolla. She was a financial advisor. Her office has overseen the growth of the Missouri MOST plan (a 529 plan).
Hulshof: Declines rebuttal.
What would you do to raise money for highways and bridges to fund improvements?
Steelman: Since Amendment 3 passed roads have improved. She wants to look at public-private partnerships to save tax payers dollars (cites Indiana’s experiences). She will support an increase in the gas tax.
Hulshof: “I have a record already.” He cites the last transportation bill that moved Missouri from a donor state to a recipient state in federal funds.
Steelman: Declines rebuttal.
What is your position on corn-based ethanol? (Hulshof is a corn farmer. He has stated before that high corn prices sound good to him.)
Hulshof: This year will be the second largest corn planting. He complains about “Big Oil” laying the blame on ethanol and people are buying into it. Ethanol increases energy supply. Do you want your energy from the Middle East or the Midwest? He cites a study that says that the ethanol mandate is leading to savings of up to 40 cents per gallon of gas.
Steelman: She buys into the free market system. Government mandates to not work in free market societies. They cause prices to rise. Ethanol is causing grocery prices to rise. She cites a study that shows that the ethanol mandate will cost the taxpayers over $1BB over the next decade. While ethanol may save 40 cents it has a 51 cent subsidy.
Hulshof: “Mrs. Steelman was for ethanol before she was against it.” He recites the 40 cents a gallon claim again.
Question 8: The Candidates Question Each Other Again](http://www.ky3.com/home/video/25837214.html?video=pop&t=a)
Hulshof for Steelman: You are attacking me. He asks if she can name one positive thing that he has done in Congress.
Steelman: She hits him on the 11,000 earmarks that he has voted for. Negative campaigning is in the eye of the beholder. She is only attacking his record. Hulshof should be able to justify his votes for these earmarks. She doesn’t want the broken Washington system brought to Missouri.
Steelman to Hulshof: Do you think that the Club for Growth and Wall Street Journal are misleading voters? (Hulshof got a 22% from Club for Growth and WSJ hit him for being a supporter of earmark spending.)
Hulshof: WSJ was an opinion writer. He would have set the record straight. He cited his National Taxpayer Union award. He then goes on to defend some of the more controversial earmarks that he has supported. He says that Steelman is taking votes out of context.
What do you admire most about your opponent? What policy proposal would you use of the other candidates? Do you think they would be a good Governor?
Steelman: He is a very good smooth talking lawyer. She highlights many of the similarities that they have on issues. She doesn’t directly answer the good Governor question, but says that we need a Governor that doesn’t borrow and spend like they do in Washington.
Hulshof: He wants his record treated fairly. He admires the job that she has done as Treasurer. He thinks that she would be a lot better Governor than Nixon. He would be the better candidate though.
Steelman: She agrees that Hulshof would make a better Governor than Nixon.
What is your record on hiring African-Americas?
Hulshof: I signed the Contract with America that pushed for Congress to live under the same discrimination laws as the rest of the country. He wants a diverse cabinet and would seek out candidates of all races and backgrounds. (I think he steps in it a little bit when he mentions Latinos “that are here legally”.)
Steelman: Two of her six capital staff is a minority. She has five women.
Hulshof: Declines rebuttal.
To Steelman: Would you have voted against the transportation bill that included money for Missouri but also included the “Bridge to Nowhere”?
Steelman: She would have fought to strip those wasteful projects from the bills. She wants to know why Congressmen have to justify wasteful spending to get good spending.
Hulshof: He supported on amendments to bills that striped billions in wasteful spending. Steelman bragged about bringing home the bacon when she was a state legislator. He cites an earmark that she requested in a nursing home funding bill.
Steelman: Missourians know the difference between nursing home care and a bridge to nowhere.
Do you oppose increasing state payments to nursing homes and doctors? (This question references the nursing home issue from the prior question.)
Hulshof: His criticism of the bill was the huge portion of the state budget that it would take up.
Steelman: The bill was intended to make sure that the residents were able to get quality care.
Hulshof: He cites a local representative that claims that Steelman’s earmark killed the funding bill because of its size.
Would you use corporate-sponsored planes for official travel as governor? (This is a practice that Blunt currently uses.)
Steelman: She would drive as much as possible. She probably wouldn’t use corporate jets.
Hulshof: Blunt instituted the policy because of over-use of state plane by the prior governor. He would return to the state-sponsored plane so that there would be a public record.
Hulshof: He complains about the negative campaigning of Steelman.
Steelman: Elections are about choices. She highlights her record again. She wants to return to the conservative principle of free-market economics. She wants to be the governor for the people, not special interests.
My Thoughts and Notes
Sarah Steelman wins this one hands down. I felt that Kenny Hulshof spent far too much time complaining about his opponent’s campaign style. The whole scene was eerily reminiscent of Hillary Clinton whining during her debate with Barack Obama (or vice-versa for that matter). Steelman was on point. She hit hard and she did it with facts. Hulshof wasted a lot of his time on non-specific answers. The KY3 viewers had mixed opinions on who won.
The Missouri Political News blog fact-checked Hulshof’s Middle East vs. Midwest oil line. They challenge Hulshof’s notions on this issue.
It’s a fact, just 10 percent of the US’s oil comes from the Middle East. At least that’s what data from the Energy Information Administration says. Not a majority; not even all that much.
Ethanol makes such a small dent in that tiny portion of our oil supplies. It’s just some empty populist rhetoric. Hulshof may just end up losing the campaign on this issue alone if Steelman is able to continue to exploit it.
Sarah Steelman’s performance in the last two debates has me going from leaning to supporting. I will be pulling the lever for Sarah in a couple of weeks. I think that she is just the rising star the Missouri politics (and Republicans and conservatives) need.
Other Bits of Missouri News
Sarah Steelman did her interview session with St. Louis Post-Dispatch readers today. You can find the questions and answers here.
The Post-Dispatch wonders if Clair McCaskill is on Obama’s short list for Veep.