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Our Opinion: Missouri Senate Republicans must strive for unity

January 16, 2022 at 3:25 a.m.

With a full slate of business at the state Capitol, we hope Missouri Senate Republicans can unite for the good of the party and the state.

The egos and infighting are holding back the whole party.

As we recently reported, the divisions between Senate Republican leadership and the conservative caucus started last legislative session and carried over into the special session last summer and the veto session in September.

Sen. Bob Onder, R-St. Charles, who is part of the conservative caucus, told Republican leadership they were sidelining the democratic process with “cheap parliamentary tricks,” in September and Rowden fired back that members of the conservative caucus were making the Senate a “clown show,” and the chamber was taking pointless votes to satisfy children.

The divisions died down after last September’s veto session. But then, after a caucus meeting in November, Senate Republican leadership had another, more selective meeting. In part, the senators discussed how to deal with the conservative caucus.

That was a mistake. This wasn’t parents privately consulting what to do with a disobedient child. These are leaders of our state. In the future, the GOP should keep the meetings open to everyone in the caucus, and work face-to-face to resolve their differences.

Naturally, the contention has carried over into the new session. But there are enough stumbling blocks in the legislative process and the lawmakers have much to do. There’s congressional redistricting, state worker pay, the state’s supplemental budget and various Republican priorities, including abortion reform, parental involvement in education and public safety.

Here in Missouri, the bigger cities are generally liberal and the rural areas are conservative. Overall, our state and our representation at the Capitol are conservative — but not ultra-conservative.

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, and Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said they will work with the conservative caucus, but they are more focused on moving beyond past skirmishes and reunifying the majority party.

The conservative caucus has eight or so members, fewer than the mainstream GOP leadership. So the conservative caucus shouldn’t give up on its agenda. But it should defer to the Senate Republican leadership to drive the party’s priorities.

If the two factions don’t work as a team, neither faction will be able to get anything done for their constituents. And that would be unfortunate — their constituents are the majority of Missouri.

News Tribune


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