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Missouri GOP Chairman Reminisces As He Heads To The Eagle Forum

Ed Martin talks about his work as chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, and his new job as president of the Eagle Forum with 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh  on Feb. 12, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio file photo
Ed Martin talks about his work as chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, and his new job as president of the Eagle Forum with 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Thursday at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.

Ed Martin may be leaving his position as Missouri Republican Party chairman, but he’s still toeing the party line. Martin is now the president of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, a conservative interest group.

Although Martin will be the Eagle Forum’s president, a role Schlafly has filled since she created the group in 1972, Schlafly remains its CEO and will direct policy, Martin told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Thursday. “I’m going to do some fundraising, focus on 2016 and some of the political issues that are going to face us, and then work with our state chapters to empower them.”

As the state GOP’s chairman, Martin had been criticized for his fundraising efforts, but Martin said the “proof is in the elections.”

“In my cycle as chairman, we raised a couple million bucks (and) we won almost every election we ran in ’14,” he said. “Remember, I took over in 2013, right after the 2012 election where the confidence amongst the party members, of all stripes, was very low. Succeeding in 2014 took a lot of effort and a lot of focus.”

Martin previously ran for Missouri’s 3rd Congressional district and attorney general. He lost both of those elections. Martin said he has no plans to run again, but said more than once that he’s not leaving the party.

“I intend to be a full-throated proponent of what I think are conservative Republican positions,” he said. “We believe our positions and values are better than the other team’s, and we’ve got to compete.”

The Eagle Forum describes itself as pro-family. It has traditionally been anti-abortion and anti-same-sex marriage. Martin seemed to hint that there may be some wiggle room on the group’s same-sex marriage stance.

“Being against homosexual marriage, to me, is not a position I want to be in,” he said. “I want to talk about the definition of marriage, what family means and how it impacts us.”

On Friday, Martin followed-up in an email, saying he "adamantly opposes" same-sex marriage.

Martin has worked with the Eagle Group for some time, which Schlafly founded during her successful fight against the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.

“Eagle Forum is still a leading organization in the fight against the tyrannies of this age large and small,” Martin wrote in announcing his new position. When asked about those tyrannies Thursday, Martin cited people living in the country illegally.

“I do think that we have a problem when Wall Street and big business is so in favor of flooding America with low-wage earning illegal immigrants, and that’s what amnesty does. That’s a tyranny of big business and big government,” he said.

“Another tyranny that, again, Eagle Forum has been clear on is China and the vast movement of overseas work. Yes, we get cheaper stuff at Walmart. That’s a nice thing, but it’s taken a big chunk of our culture out and that’s because China is so big and is so dominant in our culture and our governing class. There’s tyrannies big and small. I think there’s tyrannies in education. Some of this common core stuff is really, I think, unhelpful. But there’s big government and big business and big labor. The amnesty fight, illegal immigration, to me is more destructive to regular working folks than anybody’s paying attention to, and it’s not just left-wingers that want it.”

To combat illegal immigration, Martin said the U.S. should “build a sophisticated wall along the border and make it clear that you can’t come through.” Martin said unemployment is high and wages are low for black men and women because of the number of people living in the country illegally.

Martin also called out big hospital systems as tyranny.

“The big hospital systems and the big insurance companies got to the table in Obamacare in a way that advantaged them. They control the money flow,” he said. He said the Missouri Hospital Association favors large hospital systems over smaller rural hospitals. That combined with the Affordable Care Act “is worse for our health care system,” he said. Instead of expanding Medicaid, Missouri should look into a “state-controlled, state-influenced Medicaid,” he said.

When asked about climate change, Martin returned to the tyranny of China.

“The question to me is whether the solutions offered by people who want to do cap and trade and want to control us are really solutions, or if they’re government control,” he said. “”China cheats on climate more than anyone ever has. We do nothing to stop them, and then we tie our hands with the EPA and other groups. If you want to take on climate change, you ought to be on the front lines with me in opposing China and realizing they are our enemy and they are doing things to us that we never expected and they have to be stopped.”

“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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