Matt Blunt

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Matt Blunt
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Governor of Missouri
Former Officeholder
In office
2005 - 2009
PartyRepublican
Personal
BirthdayNovember 20, 1970
Matthew Roy "Matt" Blunt (born November 20, 1970) was elected Governor of Missouri on November 2, 2004. At the age of 33, this made him the second youngest person ever elected to that office after Kit Bond. He is a member of the Republican Party. Blunt was the youngest Governor in the United States until Bobby Jindal was sworn in as governor of Louisiana on January 14, 2008. Blunt announced on January 22, 2008, that he would not seek a second term as Missouri governor, so he could spend more time with his family.[1]

Background and education

Blunt is the son of current House Minority Whip (previously Majority Whip and Interim Majority Leader) Roy Blunt and his first wife, Roseann Ray Blunt. After graduating from Jefferson City High School in Jefferson City, Missouri, Blunt was accepted into the United States Naval Academy where he received a bachelor's degree in history in 1993.

As an officer in the United States Navy, he went on to serve as an engineering officer aboard the USS Jack Williams and as the navigator and administrative officer on the USS Peterson.

His active duty service included participation in Operation Support Democracy, involving the United Nations blockade of Haiti, missions to interdict drug traffic off the South American coast, and on duties involved in the interdiction of Cuban migrants in 1994. During his Naval career, Blunt received numerous commendations, including four Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals.

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Blunt was called into active military service. Blunt completed a six-month tour of duty in Great Britain during Operation Enduring Freedom, during which time he continued to work full-time as Missouri Secretary of State. He is a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserve. In accordance with Pentagon regulations and the Missouri Constitution, if Blunt is called for military duty while Governor, he might have to either transfer his gubernatorial powers to Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, or resign from the Naval Reserve.[2]

Blunt is a member of the State Historical Society of Missouri, the American Legion, and the Missouri Farm Bureau. As Governor, he is a member of the National Governors Association, Southern Governors' Association, and the Republican Governors Association. Blunt and his wife, Melanie, were married in May, 1997. Their son, William Branch Blunt was born on March 9, 2005.

Political career

In 1998, Blunt was elected as a Republican to the Missouri House of Representatives to represent the 139th legislative district for a two-year term. In 2000, he was elected Missouri Secretary of State; although only a first-term state representative, Blunt defeated the Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives Steve Gaw. Blunt was the only Republican elected to statewide office in Missouri in 2000. On November 2, 2004, he defeated then-State Auditor (and current U.S. Senator) Claire McCaskill 50.8%-47.9% and was elected Governor of Missouri.

Election as Secretary of State

Blunt received considerable fundraising support from his father's supporters and from out-of-state Republicans in his 2000 Secretary of State bid. Senior political strategist Karl Rove appeared at an April 21, 2000 fundraiser in Springfield.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag (dead link) (dead link), and the 7th District Congressional Republican Committee — a fundraising group affiliated with the senior Blunt - donated $40,000.[3] Contributions from 84 of Rep. Blunt's colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives totalled over $65,000.[4] (dead link) (dead link)[5] Matt Blunt defeated his Democrat opponent Steve Gaw with 51.4% of the vote, to Gaw's 45.1%.[6]

Term as Governor

When Blunt took office in January 2005, it was the first time in Missouri since 1921 that a Republican held the Governor's office with Republican majorities in both houses of the State Legislature. Blunt and his allies in the Missouri General Assembly moved quickly to enact legislation that they said would create a positive business climate in the state and result in job growth.[7] Among the legislation passed were tort reform measures that overhauled the state's legal system,[8] and changes in the state's workers compensation laws.

Handling the states financial crisis by reducing spending was Governor Blunt's first task in office.[9] (dead link) Along with the Republican leadership in the General Assembly, Blunt trimmed state spending in order to keep the budget balanced without raising taxes. Particularly controversial were provisions eliminating parts of the state's social entitlement programs. The cuts were criticized by editorials in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.[10][11][12] After some minor changes to the Governor's original requests the final version was passed.[13] Many Missourians who had previously depended on Medicaid were no longer eligible for benefits. Approximately 177,000 Missourians had their health benefits cut off due to these legislative actions.[14] Two years later, with an election almost a year away, Governor Blunt implemented the MO HealthNet Initiative, Senate Bill SB577.[15] Missourians were able to leave the Medicaid system or have coverage restored for the new coverage which was intended to offer them more choices and more rewards for healthy behavior.[16]

Abortion and stem cell research have also been contentious issues during Blunt's term. Blunt opposes abortion, but has also opposed efforts to ban research procedures such as somatic cell nuclear transfer. There were efforts to pass such a ban in the Missouri General Assembly during the 2005 session. Disagreements among Republicans over the stem cell issue held up efforts to pass restrictions on abortion, such as a 24-hour waiting period, and a restriction on helping minors cross state lines to avoid Missouri's parental consent requirement. In September 2005, Blunt called a special session of the General Assembly specifically to address abortion. The General Assembly passed the above-noted restrictions, and Blunt signed them into law.[17]

In October 2005, Blunt announced his support for an initiative petition, prominently supported by former Senator John Danforth, that would amend Missouri's Constitution to prohibit a ban on somatic cell nuclear transfer. Because constitutional amendments can only be approved by the voters, this would effectively remove the issue from the Legislature.[18] Due to his position on this initiative, Missouri Right to Life announced that it no longer considers Blunt a pro-life politician.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag His approval among Republicans polled was 62%, but his rating among Democrats was only 12%.[19] This was one of the greatest partisan divides of any governor.

In the 2006 legislative session, Blunt's stated priorities included enacting a version of "Jessica's Law" requiring a minimum 25 year sentences for child sex offenders one of his legislative priorities.[20] In the area of education, Blunt proposed selling Missouri's student loan agency, known as MOHELA, and using the proceeds to pay for endowments and new construction for the state's public universities.[21] In the area of elementary and secondary education, Blunt has proposed that school districts be required to spend at least 65% of their budgets on student instruction. After the proposal was criticized, Blunt suggested that the 65% threshold should be a goal, rather than a mandate.[22] Blunt has also offered his support for measures that would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception, in contrast to Illinois, which recently enacted legislation requiring pharmacies to fill such prescriptions.[23]

As of July 24, 2007, Blunt had a 48% approval rating.[24]

In October 2006, Governor Blunt earned the highest score of any US governor from the libertarian Cato Institute. Blunt received a grade of 'A'—the only governor to do so — by reducing Missouri's budget, limiting Medicaid spending, and making the state government smaller.[25]

Environmental record

Blunt has promoted Missouri as a potential hotspot for bioscience, although he has been criticized for restricting science funding for controversial research such as that involving stem cells — a decision seen as discouraging the science community at large from working in the state.[26][27] On June 5, 2007, the chair of Blunt’s Advisory Council for Plant Biotechnology Roger Beachy announced that Washington University would go ahead with plans for the International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability, rather than wait for a grant from the Department of Energy.[28] In 2006, Blunt signed legislation requiring gasoline sold in Missouri to contain 10% ethanol.[29] Despite these advances, Missouri’s per capita carbon dioxide emissions have increased 15% since 1990, a development largely due to lack of incentives for reducing dependence on coal. Missouri’s per-person CO2 emissions have increased faster during this period than have those of all but four other U.S. states.[30]

Supporting Biotechnology

As Monsanto's home state, Missouri has vast numbers of programs supporting the development of genetically modified food crops and the science that helps create the fee based seeds driving the industry. In 2005 Governor Blunt created the Missouri Life Sciences Trust Fund to take monies from the Tobacco Settlement fund and apply them to biotech efforts. In January 2006 Gov. Blunt created the Lewis and Clark Discovery Inatative (LCDI) designed to spread biotechnology across the State. The LCDI takes funds from the Missouri higher education learning assistance fund (MOHELA).

Among the many efforts are Executive Orders[31] (dead link) and programs created by Blunt delivering University cooperation, tax relief, research funds and seed capital for "life science" start up firms and an innovative program to reward Insurance Companies and other large institutional investors for putting their money in funds that hold biotech stocks. Full details of the Missouri Biotech efforts in pdf Report.[32]

E-mail controversy

In September 2007, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon questioned the governor's office regarding the storage and deleting of emails. According to the state's sunshine laws, any documents that are sent through the governor's office are public record and must be accessible. Former staff lawyer Scott Eckersley has claimed publicly that he was fired from the governor's office for criticizing the office's handling of emails, though the Blunt administration says his employment was terminated for disciplinary infractions.[33] (dead link) The office has pursued Eckersley for breaching confidential information about his former job through the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

2008 Election

On January 22, 2008, Blunt announced he would not run for re-election. The race was expected to be a heated battle against Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon.[1] Political observers in Missouri and Washington, D.C. have noted that Blunt, as the young governor of a swing state, is a possible running mate for Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.[34][35]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 “Gov. Blunt Won't Seek Re-election” ‘’KSDK.com 22 Jan 2008
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/2/http://www.navytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-491371.php
  3. https://web.archive.org/web/2/http://www.pbs.org/newshour/vote2004/key-races/mo_blunt.html
  4. http://www.beyonddelay.org/files/Blunt.pdf
  5. http://www.hillnews.com/news/070903/blunt.aspx
  6. http://www.sos.mo.gov/enrweb/statewideresults.asp?arc=1&eid=14
  7. http://www.semissourian.com/story/153457.html
  8. http://www.semissourian.com/story/159366.html
  9. http://www.columbiatribune.com/2007/Sep/20070909Feat002.asp
  10. http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/editorialcommentary/story/7176AF3596E9E680862570180078EEC8?OpenDocument&highlight=2%2C%22Blunt%22
  11. http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/editorialcommentary/story/CA197BF85ED3030D862570180079B496?OpenDocument&highlight=2%2C%22Blunt%22
  12. http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/editorialcommentary/story/6075D53ADC754A7B862570180077E420?OpenDocument&highlight=2%2C%22Blunt%22
  13. http://www.semissourian.com/story/1138362.html
  14. http://www.joplinindependent.com/display_article.php/akilova1174332651
  15. http://www.senate.mo.gov/07info/BTS_Web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=r&BillID=28834
  16. http://www.khqa.com/news/news_story.aspx?id=47965
  17. http://www.semissourian.com/story/1118392.html
  18. http://www.semissourian.com/story/1121727.html
  19. http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=55e70e63-e0a4-44aa-bcf4-158c2122f498
  20. https://web.archive.org/web/2/http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060113/NEWS01/601130357
  21. http://www.semissourian.com/story/1137078.html
  22. http://www.semissourian.com/story/1138094.html
  23. http://www.semissourian.com/story/1135328.html
  24. http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=7a649772-be8f-402c-84a5-c7a2aef76e13
  25. http://www.cato.org/new/pressrelease.php?id=62
  26. “Missouri’s Two-Faced Stance on Science,” ‘’Kansas City Star 21 May 2007
  27. “Shameful hostility toward science in Missouri” ‘’Kansas City Star 17 May 2007
  28. [1] (dead link) ‘’St. Louis Post-Dispatch 5 June 2007
  29. Official Press Release
  30. “Missouri Sees Rise in Carbon Dioxide,” ‘’Columbia Tribune 3 June 2007
  31. http://www.gov.mo.gov/eo/2006/eo06_007.htm
  32. http://bio.org/local/battelle2006/Missouri.pdf
  33. http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/C7AB0283A688732B86257395002540E1?OpenDocument
  34. Blunt and McCaskill for VP would strengthen candidates by George Kennedy, Columbia Missourian, Feb. 09, 2008
  35. McCain faced tough VP choice by Andrew Ward, Financial Times, Mar. 04, 2008

External links