ob Griffin died last week. I suppose many will say, who? Time does that to legends. For 15 years, Bob Griffin was probably the most skilled and perhaps most powerful politician in the state of Missouri. He served as Missouri House Speaker for 15 years, hailing from Cameron and Clinton County.
His reign of contributions and power ended with a criminal conviction for accepting money from a lobbyist. Read that sentence again. Apparently, it is illegal if not worded correctly to accept lobbyist money. If you have the right lawyers, it’s excessively lucrative and legal.
From an outsider’s point of view, it looked like a case of politics eating their own. Griffin had made the tactical mistake of staying too long and if you get enough enemies in politics, the system turns on you, without hesitation or pity. He did jail time and later his sentence was commuted by President Bill Clinton.
Maybe it’s ironic that the prison in Cameron was one of the feathers in his legislative accomplishment cap, but it’s been a component in the economic vitality of that area.
Anyway, the truth is that Griffin did far more good for Missouri than harm. He knew how to get legislation passed and he operated in an era that saw a thin political line that was often crossed for the sake of compromise. Don’t get me wrong, compromise involved benefits for individual areas and typical pork barrel type improvements, but it got things done. Griffin was old-school politician who had a steady stream of students, government officials and just good folks from back home in a continuous stream through his speaker’s office.
As a young, impressionable high schooler, I was honored to meet him as some sort of trumped-up student recognition program that got him involved with constituents. He was cool as a cucumber and could slow a private conversation down to a crawl to listen to a constituent, even on the fastest paced days. It’s a skill that most people don’t have. It’s like driving 100 mph on the snow packed interstate, smoking a cigarette, drinking a scotch and listening to a confession, without wrecking the car.
The good ones can do that. It’s because they either honestly do care about the day-to-day stories they were presented, or they’re good at faking it. Either way, It’s a skill.
He was a nice man that did good things for the people he represented and for that he should be remembered.
Speaking of Democrat politics, Jay Nixon is appearing at a Clay County fundraising event in August. Nixon is headlining the Dems primary fundraising event in Excelsior Springs. This, coupled with other hints has triggered many to believe that Nixon will be jumping in the fray to fill Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Roy Blunt.
Republican’s better pack their lunch if that happens. Republicans also better get Eric Greitens to move out of the way before then. I like Greitens almost as much as he likes himself, but I doubt he can beat Jay Nixon in a statewide race that will draw millions and millions of dollars. Nixon will cross the political line and draw in all kinds of Republican voters.
Nixon’s name has been mentioned by Chuck Schumer and he has historically done well with rural Missouri for a Democrat. That could be formidable for Republicans to overcome and hold on to the seat.
(Guy Speckman can be reached at email@example.com or trying to legally accept lobbyist money)