Good Gov. Bob Holden is mulling the challenge to debate State Auditor Claire McCaskill in July prior to the August primary. McCaskill has said she wants a series of debates throughout the state to point out differences between the incumbent Governor and herself. But Holden knows he's vulnerable and his debating skills leave much to be desired. So I suspect the debates will be highly restrictive and few in number if they are held at all.
Meanwhile, a medical malpractice bill is making its way through the Legislature that will restrict some of the massive punitive penalties handed down primarily by friendly St. Louis juries. Part of that measure will also disallow lawyers from "venue shopping" where they try to move their cases to the plaintiff-friendly courts in urban St. Louis. This is similar to the measure vetoed last year by Holden because of his strong financial ties to the trial lawyers of the state.
But Holden may face a dilemma this time around because physicians are leaving Missouri in droves because of exploding medical malpractice insurance premiums. Then again, Holden knows where his finances come from so who knows where this measure will land.
For the most part, Gov. Holden has maintained a low profile as of late. Of course, the Republican majority in the Legislature will hand the Governor more legislation to sign as the current session grinds along. And that won't make for any comfort level to the Governor between now and May when the legislative session ends.
Then come June, Holden and McCaskill will be in full campaign mode and the spit will begin hitting the fan on a regular basis. To underestimate Claire McCaskill's fire would be a mistake. But Holden is prone to mistakes.
Here's an inside view of the true nature of our Governor. At a recent Democratic gathering, both he and McCaskill were featured. When Holden was introduced, McCaskill was the first to stand and lead the crowd in a round of applause. When McCaskill was later introduced, neither the Governor nor his wife stood nor joined the crowd in polite applause. Believe me, that message was not lost on Claire McCaskill.
The absolute best thing that could happen to the state of Missouri right now is the early retirement of Bob Holden. But since the unions, trial lawyers and urban voters want their man to remain in office, it will take the votes of rural Missourians and the hard-working middle-class to bring that glorious day to our great state. The countdown to the August primary is under way. And the clock is ticking in the Governor's Mansion high on the hill in Jefferson City.