In part 2 of our conversation with the chairman of the Republican 8th District Committee Eddy Justice we discuss the process the committee will undertake to choose a nominee, whether he would consider running himself, and what he thinks of some of the candidates being mentioned.
Eddy Justice: Ok.
SEMO TIMES: Do you believe tax increases should be part of the solution to the deficit problem?
Eddy Justice: I do not believe tax increases should be part of that solution.
SEMO TIMES: Do you believe the debt ceiling should be raised again?
Eddy Justice: I don’t want to go the point and say absolutely not, but I will say that unless spending is cut in a dramatic manner then no I do not.
SEMO TIMES: And are you comfortable with what would result in?
Eddy Justice: I believe there are ways to make the pain much less severe if it’s done correctly. I don’t believe there is a way for that to happen because most of the people involved are only concerned with their re-election and not my kids and grandkids.
SEMO TIMES: Does that include your Senators?
Eddy Justice: I have personal relationship with Roy Blunt and believe his heart is in the right place to do the right things for Missouri, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Claire McCaskill doesn’t have the best interests of Missouri at heart.
SEMO TIMES: Really, why do you say that?
Eddy Justice: Look at her voting record, capitalism is the heart and soul of our system and vote after vote she thumbs her nose at the free market economy.
SEMO TIMES: Is she a socialist?
Eddy Justice: Id hate to go that far. I’d say she is more power focused on adding to the federal government’s power.
SEMO TIMES: At the end of the day do you believe she wants Missouri to do well and be prosperous?
Eddy Justice: I would hope, but with her aligning with Obama 98% of the time, it makes me wonder.
SEMO TIMES: Do you think spending cuts should include agriculture and defense?
Eddy Justice: I think as far as we are out of balance, and if you listen to the left they say everyone should pay their fair share, well I think the pain should be felt by everyone.
SEMO TIMES: Should Medicare and Social Security should be part of those cuts?
Eddy Justice: I think we should keep our commitments we have made.
SEMO TIMES: Is it possible to fix the budget without reducing the amount spent on Social Security and Medicare.
Eddy Justice: Yes and I think Paul Ryan’s budget does exactly that.
SEMO TIMES: As a person in business what was your feelings, when the federal government’s credit rating was downgraded.
Eddy Justice: I was more heartbroken than surprised.
SEMO TIMES: Do the Republicans own some of the blame for that.
Eddy Justice: Absolutely. Our problems aren’t Republican or Democrat problems they are American problems. Our country was set up to force our leaders to find consensus. There is plenty of blame to go around. George W. Bush’s stimulus was a great example of that.
SEMO TIMES: Consensus is an interesting word. The people elected a Senate that is led by liberal democrats, the President of the United States who was twice elected is a very very liberal Democrat. They all demand tax increases. Doesn’t consensus mean raising taxes to address the debt issues as the people’s representatives are demanding?
Eddy Justice: I fear that it’s not possible to reach consensus without raising taxes. America gets what it elected.
Eddy Justice: Yes it has elected liberals and I’m afraid we are going to have to settle for tax increases even though I don’t think they are necessary. Let me go a little farther into that. Our constitution was set up to protect ideological minorities. To make sure we did not live in a mob rule society, that is why America is a representative republic. The executive branch was set up to be elected by the electoral college, the house by popular vote, and the Senate by state legislatures. It was set up to keep from being ruled by factions.
We have progressed away from that framework. The Senate is now directly elected, now many people want to get rid of the electoral college and if you complete that trifecta then you are no longer able to protect ideological minorities.
SEMO TIMES: Back to the committee, do you think that whoever gets this nomination will have to commit not to raise taxes.
Eddy Justice: I don’t think they would have to commit to anything. However it might be very smart to do so.
SEMO TIMES: I would assume you are very pro-life and pro-2nd amendment.
Eddy Justice: Yes extremely.
SEMO TIMES: Describe the process you will be presiding over.
Eddy Justice: In early February the Congresswoman will resign. Then the Governor will then issue a writ of special election. Then I have 14 days to call the nominating meeting.
SEMO TIMES: Do you think you will have an nominee by St. Patrick’s Day?
Eddy Justice: That is according to how long it takes the Governor to issue his writ?
SEMO TIMES: How long after the writ is signed will it take to have a nominee?
Eddy Justice: I will call the meeting in 14 days, but I wouldn’t expect it would take more than a month after that to have a nominee. A lot of that is up to when the Governor sets the election date.
SEMO TIMES: Do you see there being a rigorous general election if there is no independent challenge from the right?
Eddy Justice: It’s according to who the Democrats nominate?
SEMO TIMES: Is there a realistic chance of a democrat going to Washington from the 8th.
Eddy Justice: If there are no surprises I think a Republican wins the seat.
SEMO TIMES: Do you personally feel that whoever wins the nomination should have a majority vote by the committee, or are you open to a plurality vote deciding the nomination?
SEMO TIMES: How many candidates have reached out to you and expressed interest in the nomination?
Eddy Justice: 23 so far.
SEMO TIMES: Do you think a plurality election among 23 candidates would be more likely to illicit independent challengers in the special election. Is it a goal of yours to end the process without an independent challenge?
Eddy Justice: My goal is that when this process is over all of the committee members can honestly tell their friends and neighbors that this process was run fairly and the candidate who should have won did. I don’t want anyone to have left this meeting thinking it was a waste of his or her time. I want it to be fair
SEMO TIMES: Will it be open to the public?
Eddy Justice: It is yet to be determined, but I will lobby with everything I have to see that it is. I am 100% in favor of the public forum.
SEMO TIMES: Out of the 23 how many of them are serious contenders who make it to the meeting and are nominated?
Eddy Justice: We are really early in the process, and it’s hard to say at this point. It will also be determined by the process it takes to be nominated.
SEMO TIMES: Would you support a minimum support threshold to be nominated?
Eddy Justice: I think that is one avenue that would be reasonable to me. We want to be as transparent as possible and as fair as possible, but not have it linger on for 28 hours.
SEMO TIMES: There have been some in the party who have stepped up and offered to hold the seat for two years until a full throated primary can be held in 2014.
Eddy Justice: I love Wendell Bailey. I have met him several times and I love the guy. First of all I appreciate their willingness to be a team player and to help the party. That is great of them to offer. Is that the best-case scenario, I don’t think so. If it came to that in order to bridge the gap, then I would be all for it.
I think we have a slate of candidates so far that are strong enough to serve the 8th district well. If you have those candidates now, then why do you need to bridge a gap?
SEMO TIMES: Where did you come down in the 2012 Senate primary?
Eddy Justice: I supported anyone who could get McCaskill out.
SEMO TIMES: Did that narrow it down to two?
Eddy Justice: Well in hindsight it did, but I don’t want to say.
Eddy Justice: The first thing I learned is that McCaskill ran a great campaign and it started before the primary.
SEMO TIMES: Tell me what the typical person on this committee is like?
Eddy Justice: The demographics are, people are young as 25 and as old as, late 80’s on the committee. I would say the median age since I’ve become chair has decreased 10 years.
SEMO TIMES: Are they fiscal hawks? Party people?
Eddy Justice: It’s very difficult to say. I know people on this committee who really don’t care about social issues, and others who primarily care about social issues. I’d say it’s a balanced committee.
SEMO TIMES: Is there a candidate you are personally supporting?
Eddy Justice: Were too early in the process to attempt to make a decision. If I declared now I would be limiting myself to those who have expressed an interest, and there may be more candidates who come forward.
SEMO TIMES: Is there a major candidate who hasn’t been mentioned?
Eddy Justice: I think there is one maybe two.
SEMO TIMES: Do you anticipate that you will support someone actively, or be more removed from supporting anyone because you are the chairman.
Eddy Justice: My goal from the process is that everyone leaves the meeting feeling they were heard and the process was done appropriately. I think for that to happen the chairman has to say above the fray a little bit.
SEMO TIMES: So you will withhold your full-throated support for any candidate because of your role as chairman?
Eddy Justice: Without a doubt, without a doubt. I’ve expressed that to candidates who have called me, and they seem to understand.
SEMO TIMES: You are personally held in high regard by many on the committee, and some of those committee persons have suggested that you should be the nominee. You gave a quote to the Southeast Missourian that didn’t shut the door on the idea. Are you open to that possibility?
Eddy Justice: I am open.
SEMO TIMES: Have people approached you about running?
Eddy Justice: I am open to talk to anyone about anything just about. I’m not saying that I’m looking to run, or any of that stuff.
SEMO TIMES: One committee member suggested that you should hold the seat in close consultation with the committee while the primary voters decide the nomination in 2014. Is that a scenario you would consider?
Eddy Justice: There are a lot of scenarios that can happen and are going to unfold as we approach the meeting. I am here to make sure that the process runs as fairly and as smoothly as possible. I don’t see that scenario happening, but there have been a lot of other scenarios I didn’t see coming either. If that scenario presented itself I would do what is best for the party and the principles our party stands for.
SEMO TIMES: So to be clear, you wouldn’t rule it out.
Eddy Justice: I don’t rule out anything right now. I don’t rule out Matt Blunt coming back to Missouri and running for this seat. That’s kind of ludacris, but I’m not ruling out anything because it would open me up to be blindsided.
SEMO TIMES: Lets go through the candidates and get your reaction. What are your thoughts on Peter Kinder.
Eddy Justice: We have built a personal relationship over the past four years. Peter has been a guy who has always been straight up with me. He has always been honest, and never lied to me. He hires good people. Whether he runs or not needs to be based on, lets just say this Peter has always been a very good friend to the party a huge team player and I don’t expect him to do anything different in this situation.
SEMO TIMES: Let me ask you a question on the minds of a lot of other people. If there is legal opinion that is viewed as credible that Jay Nixon will appoint a successor to the Lt. Governor’s office what would you advise him?
Eddy Justice: Well you don’t ever want to give advice unless you have all the facts. That is just a small portion of the situation. If that were all the facts then I would sit down with Peter and say what are the pros and cons of not having a Republican statewide official. And then he would have to convince me of what was best for himself and the party.
Eddy Justice: I love Sarah she is a sweet lady. She has always been straight up with me as well. I’ve never had a problem with her. She has a lot of campaign experience. We will be speaking next week. She is somebody that demands a serious look.
SEMO TIMES: Representative Jason Smith?
Eddy Justice: Jason is a true friend of the party. He worked hard organizing grass roots in Missouri. He has been in leadership in the state house. We get along tremendously, and have never had a problem. He is one of those guys who when you call him he will answer his phone. He is just an average dude. I like the guy.
SEMO TIMES: Representative Todd Richardson?
Eddy Justice: I would say that he is one of the more approachable elected officials I have ever met. Issue savvy as well as process savvy. He has a way of influencing people, not by manipulating them, but by educating them. The guy won first prize as the top lawyer coming out of the University of Memphis so that tells you that the guy knows how to communicate. One of the strongest characteristics of an effective leader is someone who can communicate to people who don’t know what is going on.
SEMO TIMES: While some people have insisted the committee will nominate a highly thought of elected official others have suggested the committee might consider other less well thought of people even possibly someone like a Loyd Smith. Would this committee possibly think so little of the 8th district?
Eddy Justice: I would say he is a top tier contender.
SEMO TIMES: Really, it just seems contemptuous to the committee’s friends and neighbors to do that to them.
Eddy Justice: I’ve seen him in Texas County and other areas. He is from Mississippi County so I’d say he is a top tier contender.
SEMO TIMES: Senator Engler?
Eddy Justice: I really don’t know Kevin Engler really well. I know him as an acquaintance. So I don’t know that I could give you and educated opinion of him. I mean we have met and marched in parades together, but you don’t really get to know people in those situations.
SEMO TIMES:Senator Crowell?
Eddy Justice: As for Crowell I’ve met with him before and talked with him before he is a very smart individual. He is very tenacious, a very tenacious individual. I would say I don’t have better word to describe him than smart. He is just a smart person who can retain information very well and can translate that information into what he is trying to accomplish.
SEMO TIMES: Describe the type of person you would be proud to walk out of that meeting having nominated to be a member of the United States Congress.
Eddy Justice: Best-case scenario, they need to be prepared to represent us for the long haul, they need to be somebody who is able to build consensus, and to work across the aisle when necessary without comprising a basic core set of principles. Consensus is how our fore fathers set it up and consensus is necessary, but it can be accomplished without compromising our core values.
SEMO TIMES: Thank you for your time, I would predict this interview will be read closely.
Eddy Justice: Thank you.