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Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

Politically Speaking: Former Gov. Blunt On The State Of American Auto Industry — And His Legacy

Former Gov. Matt Blunt
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Former Gov. Matt Blunt

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, Jo Mannies reunites with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum for a special edition of the show featuring former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt.

Blunt served as the state’s chief executive from 2005 to 2009. He was the first Republican governor to serve with a GOP-controlled General Assembly in modern history.

Blunt was a third-generation elected official. His father is U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, who also served as congressman, secretary of state and Greene County clerk. His late grandfather, Leroy Blunt, was a state legislator representing part of southwest Missouri.

After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1993, Blunt embarked on a career in the Navy that lasted for 14 years. He served for six months in support of Operation Enduring Freedom during his tenure as secretary of state, which made him the first statewide official in Missouri history to be called in for military service.

Blunt served as a state representative for one term before being elected secretary of state in 2000. Blunt then won a closely contested race for governor in 2004 against then-Auditor Claire McCaskill.

Thanks to a GOP-controlled legislature, Blunt was able to enact a host of consequential policies that are still in place. That includes a major overhaul of the state’s Medicaid system and curbs on how lawsuits are filed. Blunt also signed bills substantially restricting abortion — and also signed off on changing Southwest Missouri State University’s name to Missouri State University.

Some aspects of Blunt’s administration were contentious. For instance, Democrats lambasted his decision to lower eligibility for Medicaid. He also had a rocky relationship with then-Attorney General Jay Nixon, who eventually succeeded him as governor.

After leaving office, Blunt became the president of the American Automotive Policy Council — which advocates for the Big Three automakers that are based in the United States. Blunt has emerged as a major figure in discussing how trade policies affect companies like Ford, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors.

Blunt is the fourth former Missouri governor to record an episode of Politically Speaking. The others areKit Bond,Bob HoldenandJay Nixon.

Here’s what Blunt had to say during the show:

  • He talked about his group’s interaction with President Donald Trump’s administration, especially when it comes to trade policies.
  • Blunt spoke about the impact of his administration on the state’s Medicaid program. And he also discussed a program that didn’t pass — Insure Missouri, which sought to offer private insurance to the working poor.
  • He talked about his decision not to run for a second term in 2008. That decision caused a domino effect of sorts, with then-U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof and then-Treasurer Sarah Steelman running for governor.
  • He also touched on some of the themes of his recent Lincoln Days speech, including what the modern-day GOP needs to do to win elections during the 2020 cycle.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter:@jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter:@jmannies

Follow Matt Blunt on Twitter:@MattBlunt

Music: "Electioneering" by Radiohead

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Copyright 2019 St. Louis Public Radio

Since entering the world of professional journalism in 2006, Jason Rosenbaum dove head first into the world of politics, policy and even rock and roll music. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Rosenbaum spent more than four years in the Missouri State Capitol writing for the Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri Lawyers Media and the St. Louis Beacon. Since moving to St. Louis in 2010, Rosenbaum's work appeared in Missouri Lawyers Media, the St. Louis Business Journal and the Riverfront Times' music section. He also served on staff at the St. Louis Beacon as a politics reporter. Rosenbaum lives in Richmond Heights with with his wife Lauren and their two sons.
Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.