Getting to Know Sen. Will Kraus, Candidate for MO Secretary of State
State Sen. Will Kraus believes voters are “overwhelmingly” in support of requiring Missourians to show a photo ID at the polls. The issue will be decided on November 8, a ballot Kraus hopes to also be on as his party’s candidate for Missouri Secretary of State. He’s among three Republicans running in the August 2 primary.
The senator from Lee’s Summit has made photo ID a major focus, handling the Senate version of this year’s bill.
“You have to have an ID to buy tobacco, to buy alcohol, to buy cigarettes, to cash a check, to open a bank account. How do you live in today’s society without a photo ID?”
The Missouri Supreme Court tossed out a similar photo ID bill in 2006. Another bill was passed in 2011, but vetoed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. The governor cannot strike down the constitutional amendment – only decide which ballot it’s placed on – but he can veto the implementation bill. Kraus believes there are enough votes to override such a veto in September, and then should voters approve the bill in November it would become law.
Kraus adds that this year’s version is less restrictive than past bills, calling it a “good start to focusing on photo ID.” While the bill requires voters to show photo ID, those that don’t have one can sign a statement under penalty of perjury that they are who they say they are. A different form of ID, such as a utility bill, would have to be presented.
Opponents contend the bill would still disenfranchise voters who can’t afford a photo ID. An estimated 220,000 of Missouri’s registered voters lack a photo ID, according to the Secretary of State’s office. Another criticism is that voter impersonation fraud is rare, but supporters say combatting ID theft is a main reason the bill is needed.
Despite photo ID support among most Republicans, the bill has become an issue between Kraus and primary opponent Jay Ashcroft. The Republican attorney started an initiative petition last year to put a constitutional amendment before voters. Upon passage of the bill in the legislature, Ashcroft released a statement expressing gratitude “for the thousands of Missourians from across the state who signed our petitions. Because of our efforts, the legislature finally listened.”
But Kraus questions why Ashcroft didn’t submit that petition to the Secretary of State’s office before the May 8 deadline.
“It’s pretty disingenuous for my opponent to come out and say, ‘Hey, because of all the people that signed the initiative petition, we got voter ID done,” says Kraus. “We don’t even know how many people signed it.”
Ashcroft, the son of former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, just received the endorsement of former Arkansas Governor and past presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
For his part, Kraus has the public support of over 100 past and present legislators. He says this is a “Missouri race and I think Missouri voters want Missouri endorsements.”
Kraus added that he’ll throw his support behind whoever emerges as the Republican primary winner for the state’s governor, but did not express a preferred candidate.
Kraus grew up in rural Missouri near Sedalia. He served as a pilot for the U.S. Army, logging over 300 hours flying helicopters in Iraq in the span of 13 months. He was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2004 and has served in the Senate since 2010.
Kraus says one of the primary bills he’s helped pass is SB 509 in 2014, the first income tax cut in Missouri in roughly 90 years. The legislation will be phased in over five years, beginning in 2017. It will bring taxes down from 6 percent to 5.5 percent. The cuts would only be implemented if state revenue meets certain thresholds each year. The legislation was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon, who expressed concerns over the tax cut’s impact on state revenue and services like education. Lawmakers, however, were able to override Nixon in fall 2014.
If elected Secretary of State, Kraus wants to cut “every bit of red tape” and streamline functions and services within the office and those that are served by it. He talked about being customer focused, and setting up a direct line of communication between the office and those needed assistance or encountering problems.
Above, hear the full conversation with Sen. Will Kraus.