BY STEVE KRASKE
The Kansas City Star
Even for a politician as outspoken as Sen. Claire McCaskill, this was an unusual move.
Last month, McCaskill knocked Missouri’s GOP-led General Assembly, slamming lawmakers for failing to pass a new road tax.
“We cannot have a strong economy in Missouri if we don’t have an ongoing commitment to investing in our highways,” McCaskill said.
What was odd about McCaskill’s rip was her decision to address a decidedly state issue. Members of Congress typically stick to federal stuff.
Instead, the comment spoke volumes about her ongoing frustration with her own party and its relative passivity when it comes to going after Republicans. Democratic leaders in Jefferson City should have been the ones criticizing state highways — not the state’s senior senator.
All that’s about to change. On Aug. 24, Missouri Democrats will elect Roy Temple as their new party chairman. He will succeed Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, who heads out a winner.
Sanders was at the helm last year when McCaskill won her improbable come-from-behind fight against Todd Akin, Nixon cruised to an easy re-election and Democrats won attorney general, treasurer and secretary of state.
All that gives Sanders important cred with Democrats if he should opt to run for attorney general in 2016.
But McCaskill had had enough of the quiet-as-a-mouse act. This spring, for example, Democrats hardly said a word as GOP lawmakers passed conservative bills aimed at nullifying federal gun laws, blocking implementation of the U.N.’s “Agenda 21” and banning courts from citing international law. Those votes, and the non-response, apparently led McCaskill and others to reach out to Temple as Sanders was nearing the end of his tenure.
The book on Temple is that he has matured since his flamethrowing days when he spearheaded a prominent Democratic blog called Fired-Up! Missouri. Back then, Temple enjoyed chewing on Republicans for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
These days, I’m told, breakfast may suffice. But when I talked to Temple this week, I came away with the distinct impression that his eagerness for the hunt hasn’t waned.
Of the Republicans in the Missouri Capitol these days, Temple described them as so far to the right that “they would make Todd Akin look like a centrist.”
Temple told me there’s “no shame in having a party that fights for what it believes in and calls out those … who are doing harm to our state.”
Here he comes, Missouri.