In terms of fund raising, Peter Kinder says he is the underdog.
“I am not complaining or whining about this but I am up against the most concentrated flow of money to one campaign in the history of Missouri politics,” Kinder said Wednesday in a campaign stop in Washington.
The Republican lieutenant governor is seeking a third consecutive term — a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since the 1940s. He is locked in a no-holds-barred primary battle with state Sen. Brad Lager. In a flurry of negative television ads, both men claim to be the “true conservative.”
“He (Lager) has identified six people who have written six-figure checks totalling about $1.7 million,” Kinder said. I will be outspent, so in that sense, I am the underdog.”
Few predicted Kinder, one of the most recognizable statewide GOP officeholders, would even be in the race for lieutenant governor a year ago. He was widely expected to take on Jay Nixon in the governor’s race. After a series of unflattering issues surfaced in 2011, including a relationship with a stripper, Kinder announced he was not running for governor but, instead, would seek re-election.
By that time, Lager, who had run unsuccessfully for state treasurer in 2008, had already announced his bid for the office. Lager declined to back down and he and Kinder have been engaged in hand-to-hand political combat ever since attacking each others records and conservative credentials.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Lager called Kinder a “career politician” who had lost his way on spending.
“Peter has been at the public trough for 20 years now — they begin to view government differently,” Lager said.
Kinder said Lager has been disingenuous about his record.
“All of his advertisements say ‘I am a small businessman.’ He wants everyone to believe he is one,” Kinder said. “But on his personal financial disclosure his two sources of income are Cerner and his Missouri Senate salary. His title at Cerner is senior strategic analyst. I don’t know what that is but here is the puzzle — it’s nowhere in any official biography, it’s not in the Blue Book, it’s not in anything emanating from his official office.”
Kinder said there isn’t anything wrong with working for Cerner, a healthcare information technology company that does business around the world. He pointed out it is a leader in the area of digitizing medical records. He just questioned why Lager wouldn’t be more open about his background.
“One of the owners of the company (Neil Patterson) was on the cover of Forbes magazine in May and the headline is “Obama Care Billionaire.” I don’t know if that is the reason why he wants everyone to believe he is a small business owner. He speaks of creating 30 jobs in the cellular business. He was a 25 year old manager when he resigned. So he has raised some questions about his own resume,” Kinder claimed.
Kinder also said Lager had misrepresented his ratings by the National Rifle Association and Missouri Right to Life.
“There are number of questions about his background. But I am campaigning on my record,” Kinder explained. “I believe, you can ask the other statewide officeholders, I am the only one who annually has returned money unspent out of my office budget. Constitutionally, I am president of the Senate. This year I had a 97 percent record of presiding over the Senate. I missed one day when I got my foot operated on in January and I missed another day of official business when I was invited to speak at an Alzheimer’s conference. I am chairman of the state Alzheimer’s task force. And over my eight years (in office) I have a 93 percent present (record) of presiding.”
In addition to presiding over the state Senate, the lieutenant governor takes over if the governor dies or is removed from office. They also advocate for seniors and military veterans, serve on state housing, tourism, and other commissions. The office is also used by many aspiring politicians as a steppingstone to higher office.
Kinder said he is proud of his record in the role of advocate for Missouri seniors. He said that under his watch there has been an increase in the senior meals program that is served in nutritional centers across the state and that he helped grow MoRx, senior prescription drug benefit program.
He also pointed to his efforts on behalf of veterans as a reason why he deserves to be re-elected.
“I helped establish the Missouri Military Family Relief Fund that assists the families of guardsmen and reservists when they are deployed from a higher paying private sector job to the active duty in a war zone,” he added.
Kinder said he worked behind the scenes to secure additional funding this past legislative session to make sure that the state’s seven veterans homes remained open.
The Republican primary, set for Aug. 7, also features Charles Kullman, of St. Louis, and Mike Carter, who finished second in the Democratic lieutenant governor primary in 2008, according to the Associated Press.
On Thursday, Lager fired another salvo at Kinder in an email to the press:
“I stand proud on the work experiences I’ve had in the private sector including my work at a great Missouri company, Cerner. There is a reason Peter Kinder dropped out of the governor’s race – he was unelectable. He knows it and we know. Poor choices regarding spending, values and morals have a way of catching up with you.”