Editorial Roundup: Missouri

Kansas City Star. September 21, 2022.

Editorial: Roy Blunt, the nation needs your help to prevent the next Jan. 6 before it happens

On Jan. 6, 2021, insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol, some members of Congress and then-President Donald Trump tried to overturn a free and fair presidential election. It must never happen again.

That’s why Congress must pass legislation this year that clarifies and codifies the counting of presidential electoral votes, the process rioters attempted to short-circuit that day.

Wednesday, the House took an important step toward this goal by approving the Presidential Election Reform Act, a bill sponsored by Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat. The bill amends the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act, the opaque law that provided fuel for the rioters’ fire. It passed 229-203.

Among other things, the House measure:

▪ States clearly that the vice president, or the person presiding over the congressional counting of electoral votes, has no power to judge the validity of votes in any state, or the certification of electors. “The role of the presiding officer is ministerial,” the bill says.

Trump, and some of his supporters, tried to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn certified results in 2021. He had no power to do so. The new bill makes that fact explicit.

▪ Requires the approval of one-third of the members in the House and Senate before an objection to a state’s electors can be heard. It replaces the bizarre one-senator, one-representative standard in current law, which Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri used for his own political purposes on the day of the insurrection.

▪ Provides a mechanism, with deadlines, for states to submit certified results of presidential elections. It provides a way for judges to order states to submit results.

▪ Provides for extension of the voting window if “clear and convincing evidence” shows a state has suffered a catastrophic natural disaster.

These reforms are essential. They support the Constitution and protect the integrity of the presidential vote.

Incredibly, Republicans in our region voted against these commonsense changes. It’s severely disappointing, but not surprising: The area members who voted no — Reps. Sam Graves and Vicky Hartzler in Missouri and Reps. Jake LaTurner, Ron Estes and Tracey Mann in Kansas — also objected to certifying the 2020 election results in Pennsylvania or Arizona, or both, on Jan. 6.

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St. Joseph News Press. September 20, 2022.

Editorial: Thumbing a nose at voters

All major-party candidates do Missourians a disservice when they fail to show at public debates and candidate forums.

That means you, Eric Schmitt. The Republican attorney general ran a good campaign and won a crowded primary for U.S. Senate. The victory in August means he immediately emerges as the frontrunner to replace three-term incumbent Roy Blunt after the general election.

In Missouri, where Republican candidates have prevailed in most recent statewide races, nothing about Schmitt’s absence at last Friday’s candidate forum changes the reality that it’s his race to lose.

But voters must have felt let down after Schmitt failed to attend a forum that included Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine, Constitution Party candidate Paul Venable and Libertarian Jonathan Dine. Watching a debate of major importance, while knowing that a key candidate is missing, is sort of like watching a basketball game before the advent of the shot clock. The team with the lead would just play catch for five or 10 minutes, a move that makes sense from a tactical standpoint but falls flat for fans.

It would have been nice to hear Schmitt answer questions about Roe v. Wade, inflation, judicial nominations, infrastructure, national defense, immigration, the national debt and other key issues that will be on every senator’s plate. For his part, Schmitt missed an opportunity to compare himself with Busch Valentine, who at times seemed out of her depth.

But at least she was there. Schmitt’s decision is part of a broader trend in politics. Everyone gravitates toward the like-minded in both the virtual and real world, which is how you get so many people who don’t trust election results. “What, there’s 80 million people who disagree with me? Impossible.”

Schmitt is not the first candidate to play it safe and avoid the tradition — no, the responsibility — of debating your opponents. Then Gov. Mel Carnahan, a Democrat, skipped a U.S. Senate candidate forum in 2000. Schmitt agreed to participate in a debate next month that would air statewide on stations owned by Nexstar Media Group, but Valentine has not.

In avoiding debates, these candidates act like a job applicant who will only do an employment interview if a like-minded, friendly voice gets to ask the questions. Ask yourself how that would go if you made that demand to a prospective employer.

In this case, the prospective employer is the voter of Missouri, with debate moderators serving as a proxy. Those who evade the questions are not thumbing their noses at the media or those asking the questions.

They’re thumbing their noses at the voters.

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