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Candidates’ Forum: Missouri Governor’s Race

Posted by Grace Lillard on September 11, 2008

On the anniversary of the September 11th attacks and the second day of the J-School Centennial, the candidates for the Missouri gubernatorial race met on campus to take part in the first of a series of debates before the November election.  The combined reverence for this date and the nearby celebration of the history of journalism reminded everyone in the room that the fundamentals of democracy, anchored in free speech and press, must ultimately be upheld in order to preserve our great nation.

Moderator of today’s forum was David Lieb of the Associated Press.  The panelists included Terry Ganey, of the Columbia Daily Tribune and the Missouri Press Association; Jennifer Kovaleski of KOMU; Chad Day, of the Columbia Missourian; and Juana Summers of KBIA.

The four candidates began with five minute opening statements.  According to the procedure of drawing numbers, the Republican candidate, Kenny Hulshof, began the remarks.  His platform is one of “bold proposals” to inspire change in Missouri.  Hulshof stated that while he esteems his opponent, Attorney General Jay Nixon, the beauty of our democracy is that he can do so while disagreeing with him on certain issues.  Hulshof summarized that he can offer the people of Missouri a new direction, as an alternative to the old politics they are used to.

The Libertarian candidate, Andy Finkenstadt, followed.  Finkenstadt introduced himself as a computer software engineer who knows how to solve problems put before him and address any issue in a methodical way.  The name of the Libertarian Party, he said, is derived from the word “liberty” and therefore is the only party that seeks a world where all individuals are sovereign over themselves.  He promised the people of the state of Missouri the right to live in whatever manner they choose, as long as their actions do not encroach upon the rights of others.  “Your right to swing your fist stops at my nose,” Finkenstadt explained.  If elected governor, Finkenstadt would reduce taxes by reducing the size of government, in accordance with the Libertarian platform.

In his opening statements, the Democratic candidate, Jay Nixon, noted that on the anniversary of 9/11 we should all remember what it is that unites us as Americans, and put aside partisan attacks.  He said that the state of Missouri is at a crossroads, and that he can provide the best course of action to solve problems of rising health care costs, higher college tuitions, loss of jobs, and an inefficient elementary education system.

Completing the opening statements was Greg Thompson of the Constitutional Party.  His platform, he said, is founded on God and the desire to turn our country around.  The past decades have seen “an assault on our godly heritage” and increasing levels of corruption.  As Missouri’s leader, Thompson vowed to restore the idea of government serving the people, instead of the people feeling that they must serve their government.  He also emphasized the importance of seeing beyond the two party system.  “God,” he said, “will never honor voting for the least of two evils.”

As the rounds of questioning began, it was interesting to see how each candidate’s answers reflected his previously stated position.  For example, Finkenstadt responded to questions on health care, alternative energy, and education by saying that they should be allocated by the free market, and not by government design.  Thompson answered his questions from the viewpoint of placing the sovereignty of God first and taking control out of the hands of men.  Nixon and Hulshof comprised the norm of the Democratic/Republican debate, disagreeing to a point but remaining relatively close to the middle of voter opinion.

There was one opportunity for rebuttal offered after Nixon brought up a controversy between himself and his opponent Hulshof, on the issue of campaign contribution limits.  The air between the two became noticeably charged, and for a moment, it appeared that Nixon’s appeal to non partisanship might be put by the wayside.  After a neutralizing comment by moderator David Lieb to the effect that time would not allow for “a rebuttal to the rebuttal,” the atmosphere regained its peaceable nature.

I felt that today’s debate was a refreshing take on political discussion, giving people the opportunity to hear not from just two candidates, but from representatives of four different political parties.  As the afternoon demonstrated, the citizens of Missouri have four men eager and willing to lead their state on a new path towards the future.  November will tell whose direction the people will take.


One Response to “Candidates’ Forum: Missouri Governor’s Race”

  1. d carty said

    verry happy to see this article, and to have found by google’s search. doing my last comparisons, and glad to have found much needed info about Thompson in this post.


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