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Politically Speaking: With time in office winding down, Lt. Gov. Kinder reflects on his legacy

Peter Kinder December 2016
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder back to the show for the third time.

Originally from Cape Girardeau, Kinder is rounding out roughly 24 years in elected state government. He served three terms in the Missouri Senate, eventually becoming the first GOP Senate President Pro Tem in generations. Many Republicans credit Kinder for turning a largely Democratic Senate into a Republican stronghold. 

(Kinder and St. Charles County Executive (and former Sen.) Steve Ehlmann wrote in 2004 that Republican emergence in the legislature marked “an end to the Civil War in Missouri.” You can read the Southeast Missourian article by clicking here.)

Kinder ultimately won three terms as lieutenant governor. None of his races for the office were easy. He faced opponents with significant name recognition (Democrats Bekki Cook and Susan Montee) and financial resources (Republican state Sen. Brad Lager and former state Rep. Sam Page). But he remained undefeated, and was the only GOP statewide winner in 2008 and 2012.

This graphic supplied by Kinder's office shows the dramatic political shift in the Missouri Senate. The top map shows the current make up of the Senate. The bottom showcases what the Senate was like in the 1990s.
Credit Courtesy of Peter Kinder
This graphic supplied by Kinder shows the dramatic political shift in the Missouri Senate. The top map shows the current make up of the Senate. The bottom showcases what the Senate was like in the 1990s.

After previously considering running for governor in 2008 and 2012, Kinder ran in a four-way GOP primary for the post this year. He came in third place, which he attributes to being significantly outspent by his opponents. Fellow Republican Eric Greitens won the general election, and will likely help enact priorities that Kinder championed for decades.

Among Kinder’s comments on the podcast:

  • He takes partial credit for the GOP effort that, over eight years from 1993-2001,  gave the party control of the state Senate. Kinder recalled that he entered the Senate as one of 13 senators. The party took over the chamber in 2001 – making him Senate President Pro Tem.  In 2016, the GOP controlled 24 Senate seats – a veto-proof majority.
  • Kinder credits outgoing President Barack Obama, a Democrat, with transforming the rural white working-class into Republicans. They perceived Obama and allied Democrats as waging “a war on their jobs, their economic base, their future, their energy supply.”
  • As he contemplates his future, Kinder says he’s considering jobs in the private sector, but he’s also being encouraged to consider some sort of post in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.
  • Kinder says he definitely will not become a lobbyist. “I’ve been in the halls of Jefferson City now for 24 years. I don’t seek to join those who walk up and down the halls, walking up to legislators and asking them for 5 minutes of their time.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Peter Kinder on Twitter: @PeterKinder

Music: “Chandelier” by Sia

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.