The Strangest Governor Race Ever

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You might be wondering why the Missouri Farm Bureau endorsed Democrat Chris Koster instead of Republican Eric Greitens. The Farm Bureau endorses Republicans about 99% of the time.

If you’re thinking it had to do with policy or personality, you’re thinking wrong. (And, no, it wasn’t because of Koster’s hair, Mark Reardon.) This was all about the establishment vs. the people. It’s about power and control. Greitens threatens the establishment.

Since “the establishment” is vague, I’ll give it a name. In fact, I’ll give it two names. In Missouri, the establishment is Ann Wagner and Roy Blunt. (But mostly Wagner.) And Rex Sinquefield is their financier.

To understand this, let’s look at how Wagner played the Republican gubernatorial race. Remember, Ann is running for Claire McCaskill’s senate seat in 2018.

Think about this:

  • If you’re Ann Wagner and you want a senate seat, wouldn’t you push your friend Catherine Hanaway to run for governor? Win or lose, Catherine’s 2016 run for governor would take her out of the race for U.S. Senate in 2018, would it not? That takes away Wagner’s most formidable rival for money and votes.
  • When Tom Schweich died, why wouldn’t Ann encourage John Brunner to run for governor? John hinted to me that Ann encouraged him to run when we met for coffee in April 2015. (I didn’t secretly tape that conversation, but maybe he did. Ask him.) His wife told people, too, at a Lincoln-Reagan dinner in 2015. People recall that she seemed upset about it at the time. I’m sure Ann had heard that Brunner was thinking about running for Claire’s seat. Plus, John could finance his own campaign for governor. The establishment wanted Brunner to spend his own money to kneecap Eric Greitens. That didn’t work, but, as you know, the establishment sabotaged Brunner in the final weeks of the primary. John has now lost two statewide races in a row, blowing upwards of $30 million of his own money in the process. No wonder Mrs. Brunner was upset.
  • Wagner and Blunt can’t control Greitens making him a threat to the establishment. When Greitens won (by 10 points no less), Ann and Roy went to work for Koster. Publicly, they’ll say they support their party’s nominee for governor. Don’t trust what they say. Believe what you see their friends do. In the shadows, Wagner and Blunt will undercut Greitens and support the Democrat. They’ll tell traditionally Republican organizations and businesses like the Farm Bureau to endorse Koster. That’s just the way the establishment works. As Brunner’s consultant, David Barklage, told me at lunch in 2014, “We can work with Koster.” They’re working with Koster.

Not convinced? Establishment bonds trump party loyalty. Koster used to be a Republican, so it’s not hard for Republicans like Wagner and Blunt to work with him. I have reports that some Missouri business executives are encouraging their employees who supported Greitens in the primary to support Koster because he’ll be good for their businesses. It’s a subtle threat, and it could be illegal. But it’s happening. I’m hearing stories every day. If you work for a company whose senior executives donate to Wagner and Blunt expect some gentle nudges to support Koster.

Look, Eric Greitens is a major threat to the establishment. He has no allegiance to the ownership class. He has no allegiance to the Republican hierarchy. Greitens’ allegiance is to a purpose, and his purpose aligns very well with ordinary people. Firefighters, cops, and teachers love him, so do veterans and their families. And I see huge numbers of young people working for Eric when I go his office in Crestwood. So many young people. The establishment despises these ordinary people.

The Missouri Farm Bureau endorses whoever their highest paid politicians tell them to endorse. You can surmise that the MFB endorsed a Democrat because Ann Wagner and Roy Blunt told them too. They’ll get a pat on the head and some federal money. Expect more organizations with ties to Wagner and Blunt to endorse Koster. It’s just the establishment trying to save its power and control. And it says more about Wagner and Blunt’s power and control than about Greitens’ amazing qualifications.

So don’t sweat it, Greitens fans. Just add the Missouri Farm Bureau to your list of corrupt organizations. And remember: Rex Sinquefield’s donation is pretty much the kiss of death in Missouri elections. (Rex’s $11 million went 0 for 4 Tuesday. I was 5 for 5 and cost me almost nothing.) He’s a smart guy and a DuBourg grad, but Rex Sinquefield couldn’t pick a winner in the hall of fame. We have the numbers.

2016 is the people’s year. Seize it.


Also published on Medium.

  • janeisprolife

    I sure wish this piece would have been available last week. Thanks for your input Bill Hennessy I trust you on this.

    • whennessy

      Thanks! I learned some things in the 24 hours after the election that made this story possible. And more information is coming in tonight. Watch for a disturbing update in the next day or two as I confirm a few things. Looks shocking.