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Politically Speaking: Rep. Koenig on his time in the House - and his bid for the Senate

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Andrew Koenig

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Andrew Koenig to the show for the first time.

The Manchester Republican is running against former state Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, in the Aug. 2 GOP primary for the 15th Senatorial District. Stream’s episode of Politically Speaking will be posted soon.

The Republican skirmish for the 15th District is one of two highly competitive primaries in the St. Louis area. Since the district leans Republican, it’s likely that the winner of the Koenig-Stream race will be replace state Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, in the Missouri Senate. (Schmitt is running for Missouri treasurer.)

Koenig is a Ballwin native who owned a paint company before he decided to run for the Missouri House in 2008. He defeated Shamed Dogan and Chris Howard in what turned out to be a highly competitive GOP primary. (Dogan, by the way, was drawn into another legislative district after the 2010 census. He went on to win a seat in the Missouri House in 2014.)

Koenig was the House handler of tax cut legislation that ultimately went into effect over Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto. It gradually reduces the state’s income tax from 6 percent to 5.5 percent. More recently, he sponsored a bill that could make it more difficult for municipalities to use tax increment financing if a county TIF commission disapproves of a proposal.

Here’s what Koenig had to say during the show:

  • Koenig says Dogan outspent him by a substantial margin during his first campaign for 2008. He credits his victory to hard work, as he and his wife knocked on doors around the district for a year. “When you have that personal trust, when you talk to someone one-on-one, there’s a good chance they’re going to support you,” he said.
  • Like his GOP colleagues, Koenig is opposed to expanding Medicaid under the auspices of the Affordable Care Act. He would rather see the program restructured. “It’s a failing program,” he said. “You have poor outcomes and poor access. And why would you want to expand a program and potentially put taxpayers’ money more risk, even if the feds are paying part of it. They’re not going to pay for it forever.”
  • Koenig is a supporter of “right to work,” which would bar employees from having to pay union dues if their place of employment has voted to organize. He expects that “right to work” will pass quickly if  a Republican governor is elected later this year.
  • Koenig says he’s a more conservative candidate than Stream, citing the former legislator’s vote to place a sales tax increase for transportation on the 2014 ballot. (Stream also faced criticism for that vote during his primary bid for county executive.)
  • He doesn’t believe the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump  will play a significant role in this fall's state legislative contests, especially if national Democrats don’t seriously contest Missouri. “I don’t see the Democrats pouring a lot of money to get Clinton elected here,” he said. “So the effects will be a lot less than in other states.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Andrew Koenig on Twitter: @Koenig4MO

Music: “Wicked Gil” by Band of Horses

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