Kehoe announces re-election bid

Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, is congratulated by Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, after both were sworn in at the opening of the 96th General Assembly for 2011.

Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, is congratulated by Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, after both were sworn in at the opening of the 96th General Assembly for 2011. Photo by Julie Smith.

Saying there’s “unfinished business — it takes a long time to do things down at that Capitol,” state Sen. Mike Kehoe told supporters Wednesday morning he’s going to run next year for a second, four-year term.

Infrastructure improvements statewide and re-development of the former Missouri State Penitentiary site are key issues for the next four years, Kehoe said.

“I think we’ve got to find the right mix for that (site),” he told reporters after his announcement. “The prison site, through multiple administrations, has been a conversation between the community and state government.

“It’s one of those conversations that’s going to continue to happen, because it’s such a big project (and) they want that thing to, really, be the ‘shining castle on the hill,’ so to speak.”

Ultimately, he said, officials are going to have to let private businesses develop part of the site east of Jefferson City’s downtown business district.

“I don’t know that we’ve found the perfect mix, yet,” Kehoe said.

He said his work so far has earned him support for a second term.

“I believe that I represent our district well,” Kehoe told reporters. “I think that we need to have a

continued voice for small business in the Capitol — and somebody who’s not a professional politician.”

Kehoe told the breakfast audience: “In just three short years, we’ve been able to get a lot done — even though it doesn’t seem like we’ve gotten enough done.”

Kehoe made his campaign announcement at Jefferson City’s Memorial Park, during the last of his 11 October “Flapjack Tour” stops throughout his seven-county Mid-Missouri Senate district.

Those tours involve Kehoe visiting a community and serving pancakes — which he makes — with sausage, syrup and coffee.

During that time, he also visits with constituents “on their turf” about their problems and issues.

Noting that he sometimes gets “aggravated,” and that people often complain to him about how long it can take to get laws passed or changed in the Legislature, Kehoe told the breakfast crowd: “You know, these guys were pretty smart when they figured all of our laws and constitutions out — they don’t want it to be easy.

“By design, you shouldn’t have some goofball who gets elected go down (to the Capitol) and be able to change all these issues.”

Kehoe last year co-sponsored an ultimately unsuccessful bill seeking a one-cent sales tax increase to benefit transportation improvements, and said Wednesday he supports the initiative petition proposal that would accomplish the same thing.

“I believe that Missourians should have a chance to vote on this, and see if they want to invest in their infrastructure,” he explained. “The folks who felt strongly it shouldn’t go to the ballot are still in the Senate, and I’m not sure they’re going to change their position.

“So, right now, I would think the initiative petition process is the best process to try to get to the ballot next November.”

In addition to roads, bridges and MSP redevelopment, Kehoe said, he expects education and education funding, Medicaid expansion and economic development to continue being strong discussion topics.

“People keep asking me, ‘How do you like this job?’” he told the breakfast crowd. “And I say, ‘Some of the folks — not all of them — in that (Capitol) building drive me crazy.’

“But the best part of the job is going out and meeting people, and being with folks like you — because that’s where I’m most comfortable and that’s what I enjoy doing the most.”

Kehoe told reporters he isn’t looking past this next campaign to see what other political races he might make.

He told the breakfast crowd Wednesday: “I will tell you that I had a nice young lady who got out of 6:30 Mass this morning and asked me to run for President.

“And I said, ‘There’s way too many doors to knock for that job!’”

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