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Politically Speaking: Koster lays out views on Medicaid, the minimum wage and Ferguson

Attorney General Chris Koster kicks off his gubernatorial campaign at Missouri Democrat Days.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio
Attorney General Chris Koster kicks off his gubernatorial campaign at Missouri Democrat Days.

In the latest Politically Speaking podcast, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum use a different format to focus on Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, the likely Democratic nominee for governor.

Last weekend at Democrat Days in Hannibal, Koster delivered his first major speech since filing for office. Afterwards, he talked with Jo Mannies extensively on a variety of issues – from campaign-finance reform to the Ferguson unrest.

This podcast features excerpts from Koster’s speech, as well as his unedited responses to Jo’s questions. We provide a brief setup to each of his answers, to provide context.

Koster grew up in St. Louis, attending St. Louis University High School. But he made his political mark across the state, where he served 10 years as Cass County prosecutor. He was elected to the Missouri Senate in 2004. For both of those posts, he was a Republican.

In 2007, he switched to the Democratic Party. A year later, he won two hotly contested elections to become Missouri attorney general. He was re-elected in 2012.

Koster’s comments include:

  • He’s sharply critical of Republicans, nationally and in Missouri, for what he says is their refusal to stand up to extremism.
  • He voted in the state Senate to get rid of campaign-donation limits. He doesn’t regret that vote, but Koster is concerned about the huge contributions – some $1 million – that a handful of donors are giving to Missouri candidates. He believes that, first, Congress or the Supreme Court needs to revisit the 2010 “Citizens United" decision that allows corporations and individuals to spend unlimited amounts for “independent expenditures" in elections. Such spending has touched off a flurry of new independent groups who do not have to identify their donors.
  • He continues to lambaste Missouri Republicans for refusing to expand Medicaid, which would be financed largely with federal money. Koster says the GOP is costing the state 40,000 jobs, hurting hospitals and denying health coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income working Missourians.
  • Koster remains opposed to any new restrictions on guns and says that’s a clear difference between him and the Democratic candidates for president.
  • He’s concerned that legislative Democrats no longer can get elected in rural Missouri, and believes the party needs to focus on recruiting more candidates with conservative philosophies toward agriculture and social issues.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Chris Koster on Twitter: @koster4missouri

Music: "Abracadabralifornia" by RHCP2014

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.
Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.