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Destination: D.C.

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On Nov. 2, voters will decide who will fill the U.S. Senator position Republican Kit Bond has held since 1986.

Republican Roy Blunt and Democrat Robin Carnahan have been engaged in a heated battle for the seat since the two sealed their parties’ nominations Aug. 3. Other candidates in the race are the Constitution Party’s Jerry Beck and Libertarian Jonathan Dine, neither of whom responded to Springfield Business Journal’s requests for interviews.

Here’s what Blunt and Carnahan had to say on business and how they’d represent Missouri in Washington, D.C.

The political vet
Roy Blunt’s 14 years of experience as a U.S. congressman have given him opportunities few others have had. He’s serving on the House Intelligence Committee, where he and 21 members of Congress get regular security briefings from organizations such as the Central Intelligence Agency. He took the lead on a health care solutions effort, which he said was the only alternative bill to health care reform legislation passed in March. Those types of experiences are the ones he believes will give him a leg up as a senator.

“In this election, the two biggest issues are where are the private-sector jobs and why is the federal government spending more money than ever?” Blunt said. “I have the right positions and right history to do what is necessary.”

Blunt laid out his plan to create private-sector jobs in a 21-page document “Jobs for Missouri,” but he said a top priority is to stop the talk about the obstacles he believes the current majority wants to put in the way of businesses, such as higher taxes, cap and trade, and health care reform.

Another priority is to ensure that certain incentives for job creators remain intact, Blunt said, noting the research and development tax credit is one he believes should be permanent.

“We have to create the right environment, one people believe will be around for a long period of time,” he said. “Energy policies should last long enough that you can go to the bank and explain to the banker that this is going to be one of the things you’re relying on to pay the loan back.”

While Blunt recognizes the importance of curbing federal spending, he has no plans to pass on opportunities to bring government-funded projects to Missouri, he said.

“There are always going to be some things to compete for, and I believe if you have the opportunity to compete, you should,” he said. “I’m going to work hard to keep the federal budget as low as we can, but there are always going to be things that the government funds.”

As an example, Blunt said he’s ensured Missouri’s return on its investment for highway projects, stating that when he was first elected to Congress, the state was receiving 80 cents for every dollar of gas tax money spent. Now, he said, the state receives more than a dollar back for every dollar it spends.

In the coming weeks, Blunt said he has two strategies. “The first is a Nov. 2 strategy, to win the election,” he said. “And the Nov. 3 strategy is to open every door of communication and keep it open.”

The idea challenger
Robin Carnahan isn’t interested in being a good fit in Washington, D.C. She believes Capitol Hill is completely broken, she said, and the only way to change the status quo is to seek out people who will take a different approach to government. Carnahan insists she’s the one to do that.

Now in her second term as Missouri’s secretary of state, Carnahan said her work in Jefferson City has been on a bipartisan level. During her first term, she worked under Republican Gov. Matt Blunt and helped pass the Red Tape Reduction Act, which she said saving has saved businesses more than $12 million to date by cutting registration fees for online filings. She also helped create the Missouri Business Portal, an online resource that allows businesses to go to one place to do everything needed to start a company within the state, she said.

“I don’t think either side has a lot of credibility on keeping spending under control,” she said of politics in Washington, D.C. “I still run our family cattle farm outside of Rolla, so you learn pretty quickly when something breaks, you fix it.”

Her fix involves cracking down on federal spending and the promotion of job creation through a change in focus, which means a commitment to the middle class and small businesses, she said, and the removal of tax code subsidies for large businesses that move jobs offshore. She believes that a lifetime ban to prevent members of Congress from becoming lobbyists would discourage the promotion of special interests and would redirect political focus to the representation of middle-class Americans.

To help spur the growth of small business, Carnahan said she supports a one-year payroll tax holiday, improving access to credit and exempting small businesses from capital gains taxes. Carnahan said she’ll help attract new business to the area by working closely with state and local governments to be an advocate for the state.

“We have a terrific employment base with well-educated folks and reasonable costs and a good climate for business,” she said.

Carnahan said she’ll revert to a page in her old playbook when it comes to keeping in touch with the businesspeople of southwest Missouri.

“We had roundtable discussions all across the state, where we solicited ideas and then we went back and implemented programs based on those ideas,” she said of the months after her election as secretary of state in 2005. “That’s what it’s about, I think, is listening to the folks in your state and acting on that.”[[In-content Ad]]


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