Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 66
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for October 26, 2000 - not published due to space limitations

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

The CMSU Homecoming parade always seems bigger in election years. Maybe thatís because it is bigger, with all the local candidates as well as statewide candidates or their representatives. We had Democrats, Republicans and even a Libertarian. We got to see the candidates for the two legislative races that Warrensburg residents can vote on, the 121st Legislative District and the 31st Senatorial District. The former race pits 4-term State Representative Deleta Williams against local businessman John E. Angel. 24-year veteran State Senator Harold Caskey is being challenged by 120th District State Represntative Jim Howerton, who could not seek reelection because of a vagary in the term limits law.

The Howerton-Caskey is particularly interesting because the candidates for the most part have focused on their own records and their vision for Missouriís future. Sen. Caskey, a Democrat, is an attorney and legislative insider who has been successful in bringing pork barrel projects to his district and has been running on his record of accomplishment. Rep. Howerton is a farmer who has succeeded in winning elections as a Republican in a district generally thought of as Democratic. He has offered some intelligent solutions to problems such as regulating private jails and bloated legislative pensions. Both men have been effective legislators.

Unfortunately, the Missouri State Democratic Committee has chosen to send a misleading negative attack piece through the mail. It accuses Rep. Howerton of opposing drug relief for senior citizens. Representative Howerton responded using an ad in certain papers. While it is true that Rep. Howerton, along with 66 other representatives, voted against the cited bill, letís see why the campaign piece was misleading: the bill in question was one of many versions of what to do with the so-called tobacco settlement money Ė money extorted from smokers in the form of higher cigarette prices. The major issue in dispute over tobacco settlement money is whether the money, should it ever appear, should be excluded from the limits of the Hancock Amendment, which limits growth in Government spending.

It is very difficult and often misleading for a citizen to track a legislatorís record using the internet. The official journals of the House or Senate do not give any indication why any given legislator voted for or against any given bill. I strongly dislike campaign tactics that use an isolated vote to impugn a candidateís position on a major issue, and I prefer that a candidate who attacks another to do so directly and not try to appear gentlemanly while a party committee does the dirty work.

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