Last week we sat down for the first in our Exit Interview series with term limited legislators leaving state government. We expected our conversation with State Senator Jason Crowell to be candid, but he answered every question even more straight forward than even we expected.
After reviewing the interview we decided to bring you his remarks basicly unedited in conversation form. In fact some of his more noteworthy comments were off the topic of the question, but frankly too good to leave out. When we were through we broke the interview into three parts.
Enjoy the third and final part of our Exit Interview with Senator Crowell.
SEMO TIMES: There was a movement to recruit you to run for Governor covered in the Post-Dispatch that you rejected out of hand, several calls for you to run for Congress that you have rejected out of hand, but sitting here it’s obvious you have a passion for public policy. Do you shut the door to a future campaign?
Senator Crowell: Here is the way I would like to look at it. I have always believed that wherever you find yourself today do the best job you can, and that philosophy will provide you opportunities you can’t imagine. Better than if you sit back and say that I’m going to run for Rep, then floor leader, then senate then congress or statewide. Look, the Obama model works but it’s just chasing offices. I ran for office to change the world. I’m at a competitive disadvantage because I care. I’m going to continue to do what I think is the right thing to do, which is be consistent with my philosophy and let the future take care of itself.
SEMO TIMES: So in the future is it ludicrous for people to call citizen Jason Crowell to gauge his interest when opportunities arise?
Senator Crowell: I don’t know about that but I will say this, I got married October 15th that changed my life. It’s no longer about me.
SEMO TIMES: What does she think about a future run for office?
Senator Crowell: Oh, she does not like it; she does not like it at all. Which makes her a sane and rational person, but she knows what I enjoy and what I am passionate about. I never ran to be a career politician. I believe in term limits, so now isn’t the time to run and it may never come and I’m alright with that.
SEMO TIMES: What do you and Casey do together? What is your favorite place to travel?
Senator Crowell: Anywhere she is around. We like to go see new stuff. We like spending time together and enjoy being with our families.
SEMO TIMES: Is there a TV show you two watch together?
Senator Crowell: She is making me watch Big Brother, I don’t really understand it but she is making me watch it. I refuse to watch the Bachelor, but she refuses to watch WWE wrestling which is a vice of mine. That goes all the way back to when Leaping Lanny Poffo and Macho Man Randy Savage came to the arena building, and we used to go Wrestling at the Chase before the Chase was known as a political device, it was a big circuit before WWE basically consolidated the industry.
SEMO TIMES: Do you and Casey have a favorite restaurant?
Senator Crowell: We love Chick-Fil-A and Heavenly Ham in Cape; we make a point of having lunch together every day when were both in town. We love to go to movies.
SEMO TIMES: What does she do?
Senator Crowell: She works at St. Francis Medical Center in their charitable foundation.
SEMO TIMES: So you were married in October, left for Jeff City in January, and returned home full time in May. Are you worried she will be sick of you by November?
Senator Crowell: We dated for three years so she knew what she was getting into.
SEMO TIMES: You said you hang out with a group of your high school friends. What does your group do?
Senator Crowell: We have friends who go to Kentucky Lake; I live in a neighborhood that actually has four of the guys I went to high school with in it. We bbq at each other’s house, we all visit each other’s houses. Casey and I want to start a family when god sees the right time, but we don’t feel a great pressure for it to happen right away. We like hanging out with friends, but nothing really extravagant. Were the same people we were in high school, and why I like it. Because despite any notoriety that I got, they knew me before…and they know me now, and that was just what I did- that’s not who I am.
I have never gotten any delusions between the two. Some of them you can hear it on their cell phones… Hi this is SENATOR Jason Crowell leave me a message and I might get back to you but remember this is SENATOR Jason Crowell. That’s not my voicemail…my voicemail is hey this is Jason sorry I missed you I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. If I ever did buy into that my friends would check me and bring me down so fast. It’s just a good life, southeast Missouri is home. So many people are like why don’t you run for Congress? Well, I’d have to live in DC. I love southeast Missouri…now if we could set up congress like they do in the Alaska legislature where I could get on Skype and just vote from Cape that would be one thing, but I don’t wanna go to DC. I’ve got no desire to do that. I like southeast Missouri. I grew up in Poplar Bluff, my dad is from there and I hope now that I am out of office I can get back and go play golf with the Godwins, the Penningtons, and Metz’s again. My wife tells me I need a hobby and I’m working on it.
Senator Crowell: Totally, oh man totally.
SEMO TIMES: Rams fan?
Senator Crowell: Well I was an old St. Louis football Cardinals fan. When Bidwell left it turned me off. The Rams are LA man I have a hard time getting into them. With basketball I’m college fan. I’m also a college football fan.
SEMO TIMES: Where were you for Game 6?
Senator Crowell: We were on our honeymoon in Hawaii. We would leave the beach and go to the room and watch the games. They make movies about things like that. I thought I was watching Robert Redford in the natural. Because of the delay it was like the middle of the day, but we told people on the beach, hey were done for the day, and went back to our room to watch tv.
SEMO TIMES: How will Mizzou fare in the SEC?
Senator Crowell: It’s going to be tough, real tough. I’m hopeful that we’ll get ourselves in a position that we keep the talent Missouri produces and start changing our game. Anyone who thinks we will have same success level we had in the Big 12 right away in the SEC is naïve.
SEMO TIMES: Give me one way your wife has changed you?
Senator Crowell: She wants me to come home to her. It used to be nothing for me to spend Valentine’s Day on the road recruiting candidates and missing birthdays, nothing mattered. Now all of those things matter. It’s going to have to be a damn important deal to take me out of her life for any extended period of time. I like her being the last thing I see before I go to sleep and the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning.
SEMO TIMES: Last question…Jason Crowell, who was part of the historic takeover of the House by Republicans, outspoken state senator, and most influential politician in southeast Missouri, after session was over and you were in your truck heading back to Cape what was going through your mind on the trip home?
Senator Crowell: I get to start my new life with my wife. That chapter is over, and it’s no different than when you graduated from high school you were thinking about college or that next adventure, not the past. When you graduated college you weren’t thinking about the past, you were thinking about the future. I never ever wanted to be a career politician. The people in my circle truly know I wasn’t about running for the next office. I only went to get things done. There were many times when I felt disheartened, I was at a competitive disadvantage, and I didn’t want to just hold the office so my answering machine said this is SENATOR Jason Crowell. I didn’t have the rep plates or senate plates, and I’m not listed in the yellow pages as Senator Jason Crowell…that wasn’t why I did any of this stuff.
The most fulfilling things I will miss are the opportunities visiting with constituents. I went to every 4th grade class in my district and talked about the importance of education because of how important it was to me. I was a LD kid, I’m dyslexic, I shouldn’t have done any of this stuff I did if you believe the statistics. It just took me longer to do everything. If it took you 30 minutes to read something it took me an hour. That’s just the way my life was. There are really just two things you can say to that. You can get pissed off and quit, or say I’m going to work harder. That is what I did in the senate. I look at the new life I have with my wife and I’m lucky, and I’m fortunate, and I’m happy. I have a whole new set of challenges in trying to build a law practice that has been woefully neglected all these years that I was in the legislature. We have the prospects of starting a family- god willing.
My faith and belief is that it always gets better. I’m not this guy who thinks that the height of my life and my self-worth is defined by that title that was on my name, but there’s a hell of a lot of them that are.
What I was thinking was that I did everything that I possibly could. I left it on the field. Did I make mistakes? Absolutely, but no mistakes that are like going to be big regrets that eat at me. I was a tough competitor…I don’t regret calling people out, or holding mirrors up to them instead of playing the politicians game of saying ‘awww I understand Senator, you can’t keep you word.’ If you’re a man and you give me your word, and you don’t keep your word, screw you…I’m going to call you out and that’s a lot of what transpired, and I don’t regret that for a minute. I regret the fact that those individuals don’t value that value set as much as I did.
SEMO TIMES: Well Jason thank you for the time.
Senator Crowell: No any time I enjoyed it.