Political Fracas: Dave Spence not as wishy-washy as advertised
The Kansas City Star
After meeting with Dave Spence today, I’m thinking the Missouri governor’s race might not turn out to be such a snooze after all.
Assuming Spence is the Republican nominee, which seems likely given his funding advantage, he and incumbent Democrat Jay Nixon will have a lively debate over economic development. Spence is loaded for bear on this issue, ready to rattle off a list of alarming studies showing stagnant economic growth in Missouri. He will also point out that Nixon’s Department of Economic Development has run through two directors since 2009 and is currently operating under an interim appointment.
Far from being wishy-washy, which is the rap again him, Spence was pretty decisive when he said he wanted to make Missouri a “right to work” state, move all worker’s comp claims into an arbitration system and curb employment discrimination cases.
All this is right off of the blueprint pushed by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, which Spence supports lock, stock and barrel. It would create in Missouri a much harsher environment for workers, and is totally the wrong agenda. But it’s not wishy-washy.
Likewise on health care reform, Spence declared he would join the Rick Perry’s of the governors’ ranks and refuse to implement any kind of insurance exchange. On the subject of a Medicaid expansion, his answer way, “No way, no how.”
That too, is all wrong. An insurance exchange would be good for consumers and would help to drive down the costs of health care. And getting more low-income Missourians health insurance is the right thing to do. Spence did veer into the realm of generalities when asked what he would do about health care. He advocated “free market” solutions, which really means a return to the days when only healthy people can be assured of getting health insurance.
On the subject of his involvement as a board member of a bank which failed to repay a TARP loan, Spence said Reliance Bancshares took the loan before he joined its main board. He said he put $1.8 million of his own into the bank, and the net worth of that investment is now $240,000. Federal regulators recommended delaying payments on the TARP loan, Spence said, and he voted along with other board members to do so.
Political opponents will continue to make much of that chapter of Spence’s life, but that’s his version of events.
I hadn’t seen Spence in action before today, but he didn’t live up to his reputation of being hard to pin down. On most issues, he was pretty straightforward. Nixon himself has been dancing around a lot of topics lately, like the Medicaid expansion. If Spence continues to improve, he could end up as the straight talker in a governor’s debate.