Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, has been tapped to deliver the Republican response to next Tuesday’s State of the State address by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat.
Jones had been on the short list for the response, usually delivered within minutes of the governor's annual speech. Others believed to be in the running had been Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who has delivered the response several times since Nixon took office, and state Auditor Tom Schweich, who’s running for re-election this fall.
A spokesman for Schweich said the auditor -- encouraged by some to make a run for governor in 2016 -- had not been interested in delivering the Republican response.
Jones, who has been promoting a 2014 agenda, said in a recent interview that he was interested in the Republican assignment. He is likely to touch on several legislative topics on which he and other Republican legislative leaders differ with Nixon. They include:
- The tax-cut package that Republicans are advancing;
- Conservative proposals to do away with teacher tenure;
- GOP efforts to curb lawsuits;
- Jones’ support of right-to-work legislation to restrict union rights in the workplace.
Because of term limits, Jones will leave the Missouri House after this session. He is expected to run for statewide office in 2016. This week, he reported more than $900,000 in his bank account.
That’s the largest sum reported by a statewide official – with the notable exception of Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat who’s running for governor in 2016 (and has $1.5 million in the bank). Jones, a lawyer, is among several Republicans expected to vie to succeed Koster as attorney general.