State Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, was the latest candidate to speak to the Pettis County Pachyderm Club on Friday at the Best Western State Fair Inn.
Kraus is facing Republicans John (Jay) Ashcroft, of St. Louis, and Roi Chinn, of Kansas City, in the Aug. 2 primary election for Missouri Secretary of State. Also on the ballot are Democrats Bill Clinton Young, of Kansas City, Robin Smith, of St. Louis, and MD Rabbi Alam, of Kansas City, and Libertarian Chris Morrill, of St. Louis.
Kraus, an Iraq War veteran, grew up in the Pettis County area. He was elected to the state senate in 2010 and served in the state House of Representatives from 2004 to 2010. He spent much of his time with the Pachyderm talking about election issues.
“We need a secretary of state that is going to root out fraud in the election process because it’s there folks, we just don’t know about it,” he said, giving some examples of voter fraud he has run into.
Kraus has sponsored or co-sponsored numerous election-related bills, including one last year that gives the secretary of state the ability to investigate and then work with local prosecutors to get needed information so voter fraud “doesn’t fall through the cracks.” Kraus added that he thinks there aren’t many voter fraud convictions because many local prosecutors don’t have election law expertise or have more pressing criminal cases to deal with.
He offered three reasons why he should be the next secretary of state:
• “We need a leader as the next secretary of state. The secretary of state is in charge of over 260 employees. I have over 20 years of leadership, whether it’s leading men and women in Iraq — I was the ground convoy commander, which means I was in charge of everyone in a convoy. I’ve also managed multi-million dollar projects for Sprint and I’ve also started and operated my own small business.”
• “I’m a typical Missourian. I grew up right here on a farm. I learned how to work hard by throwing hay and working at the Missouri State Fair. … We need a secretary of state that knows what it’s like to work hard.”
• “We need somebody in the secretary of state’s office that has a record of accomplishments. If you look at what I’ve been able to accomplish in Jefferson City, in my personal life flying helicopters (in the military) … Then you look at what I’m able to accomplish in the general assembly, I helped with the first income tax cut in almost a hundred years.”
Kraus is a strong proponent of requiring voter ID, working on multiple bills. He said he will be leading the effort in the senate this fall to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s voter ID bill veto.
Most of the audience’s questions for Kraus also centered around election issues. One person asked if Kraus thought requiring voter ID would solve all election fraud problems in Missouri, specifically St. Louis.
“No I don’t,” Kraus replied. “Here’s what I think will happen: we get that going and we verify who a person is at the polling locations, it’s going to help us identify anyone who’s trying to impersonate somebody. … Voter ID is a step, the bill I got passed this year that allows the secretary of state to investigate voter fraud is a big step, in my opinion, to help cure the situation. Another thing we need to be looking at, our driver’s license, we need it to identify who’s a citizen and who’s not a citizen.”
Kraus was also asked if he has any legal background. He replied that he doesn’t, but he offered his opinion on why he thinks legal experience isn’t required of the secretary of state’s position.
“I’ve passed more election laws than anyone that’s running for secretary of state and if you think the secretary of state’s going to be in a courtroom, there’s only one reason a secretary of state would go in a courtroom and that’s for pictures,” he said. I don’t think our secretary of state should be in a courtroom.”
Pettis County Presiding Commissioner David Dick brought up the recent board of education election issue in Hughesville and Kraus said giving county clerks more authority in certifying candidates “is a problem. We need to get that fixed and get legislation passed,” touting his experience in working with county clerks to pass election legislation to help improve their offices.
Attorney General candidate Kurt Shaefer is 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.