Standing beside a banner boldly stating “Make Missouri safe and strong,” gubernatorial candidate Catherine Hanaway spoke with the Pettis County Pachyderm Club on Friday afternoon at Best Western State Fair Inn.
Hanaway is one of several candidates for Missouri’s highest office on the Aug. 2 primary ballot including fellow Republicans Eric Greitens, of St. Louis, John Brunner, of St. Louis, Peter D. Kinder, of Jefferson City; Democrats Leonard Joseph Steinman II, of Jefferson City, Chris Koster, of Jefferson City, Eric Morrison, of Kansas City, and Charles B. Wheeler, of Kansas City; and Libertarian Cisse W. Spragins, of Kansas City.
Hanaway spent several minutes talking about public safety in Missouri, specifically incidents over the last few years in Ferguson and at the University of Missouri in Columbia. She said Gov. Jay Nixon was too quick to “prejudge” the police officers involved in Ferguson and that once he did so “it was an invitation for every national protester to come and target Missouri.”
Hanaway also took aim at Attorney General Chris Koster, as she did multiple times during her remarks, saying he should’ve indicted people for arson, looting and assaulting law enforcement officers.
“What happened in Ferguson directly led to what happened at the University of Missouri. There is no question. Once we were open for business on those kinds of shenanigans, the protesters just moved from one spot to the other,” Hanaway continued. “If I had been governor, first of all I would’ve shown up. Our governor, our attorney general never stepped foot on the University of Missouri campus to try and deal with those protests.
“Then I would’ve said very simply to the curators, ‘here’s the ground rules.’ You’re the governing body of the University of Missouri, my expectation is that you will make sure teachers who are paid to teach, teach; scholarship athletes who are given room, tuition and board in exchange for a contract to play football here at the University of Missouri will honor that contract or they will lose it, you will play football; and thirdly, all students should have their first amendment rights protected.
“What happened was liberal students could say whatever they want. The minute a conservative student tried to take a picture, ‘muscle’ was called in. … If the curators I appointed couldn’t do that, I would ask them to find other pursuits.”
Talking on the federal level, Hanaway said President Barack Obama’s strong suggestion of schools making bathrooms gender neutral is a “gross overreach of the federal government.”
“Our local school boards, our local superintendents have been making decisions about who can use the bathroom where since we’ve had public schools and it’s fine,” she said. “We just need some common sense back in government and we need to put an end to just the ridiculous schemes that are coming out of Washington, D.C.”
Hanaway was asked by an audience member if she would support another proposed religious freedom amendment.
“Absolutely and I did when it was going on,” she replied. “I was deeply disappointed when it didn’t get out of the house. To me it’s this simple: the pilgrims came to this continent before we were a country for religious freedom. I don’t know if they still teach that in history books today, but they certainly did when I was a kid. Then we became a country and the very first amendment to our constitution was that a state cannot establish a religion and that all of us are guaranteed the right to freely exercise our religion. … We need to stand up for the religious liberties of people today.”
Hanaway is in favor of requiring voter IDs, noting that voter fraud is a reality and this requirement would help prevent it. She is also in favor of Right to Work legislation.
She was also asked how her background would assist her if elected governor. Again bringing up Koster, she said she’s the person to elect in the primary to beat the Democratic candidate for three reasons, including her time as a prosecutor.
“No. 2, while I was speaker of the house, I haven’t run for anything in 12 years. I’m not a career politician. I’m 52, of my entire life I’ve only held elected office for six years. I think that is a very stark contrast to Chris Koster who’s held political office, first as a Republican and now as a Democrat, since 1994,” she said. “And then the third thing is … I’m a parent and Chris Koster is not a parent.”
The last question asked has been asked by the Pachyderm of most candidates hosted this month: will presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump hurt down-ballot candidates?
“I don’t believe so in Missouri,” she said. “He’s winning Missouri in every poll I’ve seen by at least 15 points … I know that we’re going to lose some traditional Republicans that are more moderate than Donald Trump, but I think for every one of those that says ‘never Trump,’ we’re picking up somewhere between two and four Joe lunch-bucket, Reagan Democrats who love the guy.”
Lieutenant governor candidate state Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, is tentatively scheduled to speak at the next Pachyderm meeting at noon Friday at Best Western State Fair Inn.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.