A Better St. Louis. Powered by Journalism.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Print
  • Email

Martin promises to bring GOP factions together and to direct 'hostile' talk solely at Democrats

In Backroom

10:59 pm on Tue, 01.08.13

St. Louis lawyer Ed Martin doesn’t dispute the portrayal of his election as Missouri’s new Republican Party chairman as a victory for the state party’s conservative wing.

But he adds, “It’s not a hostile takeover.”

Ed Martin
Ed Martin

To that end, Martin says he plans to focus on reaching out to all likely Republicans – fiscal and social conservatives and moderates – as part of an effort to enlarge the party’s “tent” and improve its election chances.

He also plans to take his time before making any major changes in the party’s staff in Jefferson City.

David Cole
David Cole

Martin ousted previous chairman David Cole in a tight contest. He said he already has contacted all the state’s Republican members of Congress, who had signed a joint letter backing Cole’s re-election prior to Saturday’s balloting by the 68 members of the party’s state committee.

Martin says he holds no grudges against any of Cole's backers. U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, was among several who have praised Martin or offered encouragement since the vote.

The Martin-Cole contest, which also involved outgoing state Sen. Jane Cunningham, was the first high-profile election for Missouri state GOP chairman since at least the early 1990s, insiders say. Cole's defeat was triggered in part by the state GOP's weak showing in the Nov. 6 elections.

Martin's challenge now, said some party activists privately, will be to ease internal party tensions while also raising money to give the state party financial muscle. A danger sign, some add, will be if prominent GOP candidates set up independent political operations apart from the state party.

Martin said he plans to make it worthwhile for party candidates and activists to stick together. He promises to focus on upgrading the party's voter database, which he said proved to be outdated and inadequate last fall.

He says that party leaders and donors also need to recognize that the Missouri Republican Party must rely on itself and can no longer expect national campaign financial help because "we're no longer a presidential battleground state."

No more plans to run for office himself

Only 42, Martin has been a colorful – and, at times, controversial – figure in Missouri politics for years. He lost two bids for office, for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and for Missouri attorney general last fall. He also chaired the state GOP's 2012 get-out-the-vote effort.

Rick Perry
Rick Perry

Martin said he touted his candidacies and campaign skills as he sought the party chairmanship, which he noted is an unpaid post.

He said he's proud of the support and help he received from such major national players, including U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Texas Gov. Rick Perry (who called GOP state committee members) and former Sen. Rick Santorum. Even former Speaker Newt Gingrich offered his assistance, Martin said.

Martin said he has no plans to run for office again but expects to use his experiences as a candidate to shape what he hopes will be a more successful two-year tenure as party chairman.

Among his top objectives for the 2014 elections?  Getting state Auditor Tom Schweich re-elected and recruiting a strong GOP candidate for St. Louis County executive.

Martin, who isn't discussing any differences with Cole, said he also sees a key aspect of the party chairman’s job as bolstering state GOP leaders who control the General Assembly, as they press their cases to cut taxes, curb spending and oppose the proposed expansion of the state’s Medicaid program.

Jay Nixon
Jay Nixon

He also appears eager to take on the state’s top Democrats, asserting repeatedly in an interview that Gov. Jay Nixon is “a politically bankrupt politician” who has played down his liberal tendencies, in Martin’s view, by campaigning as a moderate.  Martin launched a similar jab at Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

“Every time we’ve been able to make clear the differences on our positions and policies, we win,” Martin said, referring to Republicans. “We have a harder time when we’re beaten soundly on the money disadvantage, or the voters have been misled by candidates who claim they’re something they’re not.

“I think the party can help define the other candidates on the other side,” Martin continued. “We have a very stark contrast. President Obama has laid bare what the Democrat agenda is, its size and scope.”

Martin contended that Nixon is now doing the same, by his recent call for Missouri to expand its Medicaid rolls, in line with the recommendations of Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. The governor’s allies include the Missouri Hospital Association.

Martin said that GOP leaders need to make clear to the public that they’re not against health care – just “a government takeover.’’

Democrats cite Martin's past

Missouri Democratic Party chairman Mike Sanders, who’s also Jackson County executive, has repeatedly blasted Martin since his election.

Mike Sanders
Mike Sanders

Martin is portrayed as “cut from the same cloth’’ as failed Republican U.S. Senate nominee Todd Akin, who lost badly to McCaskill after publicly asserting that victims of “legitimate rape’’ rarely get pregnant because of hormonal protections.

“The Todd Akin wing of the Missouri Republican Party has taken over with a very clear message: mainstream and moderate Missourians no longer welcome,” Sanders said.

The Democratic chairman asserted that Martin has a pattern of a “troubled history of ethical misconduct, racially inflammatory comments and the same extreme positions on women’s issues that crippled Akin’s U.S. Senate bid.”

Among other things, Sanders points to email records during Martin’s tenure as chief of staff to then-Gov. Matt Blunt, which became public during a two-year probe focusing on Martin’s actions to delete or destroy emails in the governor’s office in apparent violation of the state’s record-preservation laws.

In one 2007 email to Blunt, and later made public by various news outlets, Martin disparaged then-Judge Nanette Baker, one of the finalists for a state Supreme Court post. Martin called her “the worst I have ever seen… She is a black woman, pro-abort and very liberal.”

Tishaura Jones
Tishaura Jones

City Treasurer Tishaura Jones, a Democrat who previously has worked with Martin, said Tuesday she found such comments to be “highly offensive and shocking.”

Jones added that she had held a better opinion of Martin during his earlier stint in 2005 and 2006 overseeing and revamping the St. Louis Election Board.

Martin didn’t dispute the email but contended that “there’s a kind of a ‘gotcha’ quality to this. “

“When Mike Sanders and the Democrat Party stoop to casting aspersions and slurs about somebody, it’s an indication of their own desperation,” Martin said. “I would be desperate, too, if I was Mike Sanders because I’ve got to defend Obamacare and a politically bankrupt politician like Jay Nixon.”

Martin has been an outspoken social conservative, citing his opposition to abortion and gay marriage. In his new post, Martin said he will stick with his views -- but his emphasis will be economic issues that he says affect everything else.

If the GOP's views are presented accurately, he said, it will once again be "a majority party’’ supported by a majority of voters.

He contended that the Democrats' policies, in Washington and Jefferson City, present a "devastating threat to economic freedom.”

No Comments

Join The Beacon

When you register with the Beacon, you can save your searches as news alerts, rsvp for events, manage your donations and receive news and updates from the Beacon team.

Register Now

Already a Member

Getting around the new site

Take a look at our tutorials to help you get the hang of the new site.

Most Discussed Articles By Beacon Members

Conference of American nuns will mull response to Vatican charges

In Nation

7:55 am on Fri, 08.03.12

Meeting in St. Louis next week, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will have its first opportunity as an assembled group to consider what to do after the Vatican issued a mandate for change this spring. It calls on the conference to reorganize and more strictly observe church teachings.

The 'free' Zoo

In Commentary

7:51 am on Tue, 05.22.12

When a family of four goes to the St. Louis Zoo, they can be forgiven for not knowing it will cost them $60, $72 if they park. If they can't pay, the alternative is to tell the kids they can't do what kids do at the zoo.

Featured Articles

House sends Boeing incentive bill to Nixon

In Economy

12:55 pm on Fri, 12.06.13

The Missouri House easily passed legislation aimed at attracting production of the 777x, a move that wraps up a legislative special session that saw little suspense and few surprises. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon, who has strongly supported the legislation.

Gandhi inspired Mandela on South Africa's 'Long Road to Freedom'

In World

10:10 am on Fri, 12.06.13

Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, was a towering moral figure of the 20th century -- along with Mahatma Gandhi. It was no coincidence that Gandhi and Mandela, whose paths never crossed directly, both embarked on their campaigns against discrimination in South Africa. It was when Mandela won election as South Africa’s first black president that Gandhi's influence became apparent.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Encore: Dead before death

In Performing Arts

12:58 am on Fri, 12.06.13

For years , the author was certain he would never come to appreciate The Grateful Dead, let alone be a Deadhead. But little by little, he's come around. He talks about his conversion and relates a real evolution: by a musician who went on to play with the Schwag, a Dead cover band.

Featured Articles

Schlichter honored with St. Louis Award

In Region

4:57 pm on Tue, 12.03.13

The attorney has founded Arch Grants, which brings together nonprofit philanthropy and commercially viable opportunitiesto fund new business startups, and Mentor St. Louis, which finds adult mentors for elementary students in the St. Louis Public School System. He was the driving force behind the state's historic tax credit program.

BioGenerator sets open house to celebrate new digs for entrepreneurs-in-residence

In InnovationSTL

12:29 pm on Tue, 11.12.13

BioSTL's BioGenerator organization is on the move as its entrepreneurs-in-residence find a new home in 4,300 square feet of office and conference space in an old automobile factory. The blossoming program, which helps BioGenerator's portfolio companies to get off the ground, continues to pay dividends within the growing biotech community.

Ambassadors aim to soften rough landing for St. Louis immigrants

In InnovationSTL

6:34 am on Fri, 11.08.13

The St. Louis Mosaic Project is set to hold an orientation for its new ambassadors -- dozens of foreign and native-born volunteers who aim to help make the community a more welcoming place for those from other nations. Participants will be expected to do everything from visiting local restaurants serving international cuisine to having dinner with an immigrant to the area.

Recent Articles

More Articles

Innovation and entrepreneurial activity are on the rise in St. Louis, especially in bioscience, technology and alternative energy. The Beacon's InnovationSTL section focuses on the people who are part of this wave, what they're doing and how this is shaping our future. To many St. Louisans, this wave is not yet visible. InnovationSTL aims to change that. We welcome you to share your knowledge, learn more about this vibrant trend and discuss its impact.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Featured Articles

Featured Events:

Upcoming Events

View Full Calendar

More About The Beacon Home