Bill Randles (Campaign photo)
— If you thought Lt. Governor Peter Kinder was the only Republican candidate for governor, you’d be wrong.
In fact, the Lt. Governor, who has recently been dealing with the question of whether he can be competitive against Gov. Jay Nixon next fall, has not even announced his candidacy.
Bill Randles, an Arkansas native and a Harvard Law grad, has already announced his candidacy and has been campaigning to back it up.Randles has all the trappings of a gubernatorial candidate: A Facebook page, a website, a campaign banner, and more than 100 campaign events under his belt.
Even so, he can’t seem to get support form the state Republican party.
“[C]ertain party officials have actually feigned ignorance of my campaign when contacted by my supporters and people in the media,” wrote Randles in an editorial piece distributed to reporters Wednesday evening. “I note this dichotomy in their behavior to frame the question that the party now faces: going forward, are we going to be a party that is responsive to the voters or will we be the private property of a tiny clique?”
Randles says the saga surrounding Kinder’s relationship with a former Penthouse model accent the question of whether the way the party chooses candidates makes sense, and whether the strategy can beat Nixon.
“2012 may prove to be the most important election of our lifetime,” said Randles. “I hope the MOGOP is prepared to get in sync with the voters and not just insist that voters accept whatever candidate the party chooses for them.”
For his part, Randles’ has a significant financial disadvantage to Nixon and Kinder. The Kansas City Republican had just over $3,500 on hand for the race, compared to Nixon’s $2 million, and Kinder’s $902,000.
But Kinder’s support may be slipping. Mega-donor David Humphreys, whose family has contributed more than $300,000 to Kinder’s campaign, asked for his money back and called on Kinder to resign. Republican operatives are increasingly worried, and most recently, Republican State Rep. Kevin Elmer said he would not support Kinder’s candidacy.
The Kinder campaign, however, say they have support, and want to move their campaign forward focusing on the economy.
“The vast majority of grassroots supporters, donors and other elected officials have seen this for what it is; the Democrats trying to distract from the third worst job loss rate in the country, a Nixon record of zero accomplishment, and an electorate fed up with politics as usual. The Lt. Gov. continues to enjoy strong support from all across the state,” said Kinder spokesman Jared Craighead earlier this week. “The campaign plans to continue its focus on the issues Missourians care about like growing jobs and improving the economy.”