Last Tuesday’s state elections brought considerable good news for pro-life and pro-family citizens of Missouri. All candidates for statewide office who were supporters of abortion on demand went down to defeat. A new slate of statewide officeholders were elected who have solid pro-life convictions and are demonstrated defenders of religious liberty.
Most prominent among the new Missouri officeholders who will be sworn in come January is Attorney General-elect Joshua Hawley. Mr. Hawley won victory by the largest margin last Tuesday over Cass County Prosecuting Attorney Theresa Hensley. With his election, Missouri will have a pro-life and pro-family attorney general for the first time in 24 years.
Hawley played a role in the legal defense of the craft store chain Hobby Lobby in their challenge to the Obama Administration’s contraceptive and abortion drug mandate. Hawley was an attorney for the Becket Fund at the time, which obtained a groundbreaking U.S. Supreme Court ruling that family-owned businesses cannot be required to underwrite health insurance coverage that violates their religious beliefs.
We cannot overestimate the significance of having an attorney general who believes in the sanctity of human life, is a supporter of traditional marriage, and a defender of religious freedom. Hawley’s predecessors, Chris Koster and now-Governor Jay Nixon were social liberals, and their legal strategies in defense of pro-life and pro-family legislation left very much to be desired.
Most notorious was the failure of Attorney General Koster to fully and fairly defend the state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Koster refused to fulfill his legal responsibility to appeal an adverse decision on Missouri’s Marriage Amendment to the Missouri Supreme Court. As a result, the ruling of a low-level Jackson County circuit judge took effect legalizing same-sex unions as a perverse form of marriage.
In the high-profile contest for the U.S. Senate, incumbent Roy Blunt staved off a vigorous challenge from Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander. Blunt has been a strong pro-life advocate, and a leader of efforts in Washington to protect conscience rights in the health care and health insurance arena. Kander is a supporter of legalized abortion, and endorsed the re-definition of marriage to include same-sex unions.
In other races for statewide office, State Senator Mike Parson of Bolivar was elected Lieutenant Governor, defeating former Congressman Russ Carnahan. Parson has a law enforcement career, having served as Sheriff of Polk County. Senator Parson has consistently voted for pro-life legislation, and also voted this past session for the proposed constitutional amendment protecting the religious liberties of pastors, churches, and religious organizations who believe in traditional marriage.
In the contest for Secretary of State, Jay Ashcroft of St. Louis won an overwhelming victory over Robin Smith, a former St. Louis television newscaster. Ashcroft, who is the son of former Governor and U.S. Senator John Ashcroft, is an an attorney with his father’s law firm. He holds the same conservative Christian values as the senior Ashcroft.
In the race for State Treasurer, State Senator Eric Schmitt of Kirkwood easily defeated former State Representative Judy Baker. Schmitt is a real estate and business law attorney with the Lathrop and Gage law firm in St. Louis County. He has been a strong pro-life advocate in the Missouri Senate. He also voted this session for the proposed constitutional amendment establishing greater conscience protections for the religious community.
In the battle for Missouri Governor, newcomer Eric Greitens bested Attorney General Chris Koster. Greitens is a former Navy SEAL, and was the founder of a veterans support organization known as The Mission Continues. It remains unclear what specific positions Greitens holds on major issues of public policy.
Greitens has said that he is “pro-life,” but has declined to articulate what that means when it comes to legal protections for the unborn, the elderly, and the disabled. In a disturbing sign, Greitens announced earlier this year his opposition to the religious freedom constitutional amendment being considered by the General Assembly. It remains a mystery what true convictions Greitens holds on issues of concern to the Christian community.
The Missouri Legislature retains decidedly conservative majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, which is very good news for the pro-life and pro-family movement. Republicans hold a 24-9 majority in the Missouri Senate, and a 117-46 majority in the Missouri House.
The House Republican Caucus retained Poplar Bluff State Representative Todd Richardson as Speaker of the House, and Lee’s Summit State Representative Mike Cierpiot as House Majority Leader. Springfield State Representative Elijah Haahr was chosen as Speaker Pro Tem.
The Senate leadership will remain the same, as the Senate Republican caucus once again chose Joplin Senator Ron Richard to serve as President Pro Tem and Jefferson City Senator Mike Kehoe to serve as Senate Majority Leader.
All of the above-named legislative leaders are reliable supporters of the sanctity of human life, the integrity of traditional marriage, and the preservation of religious liberty. The 99th session of the Missouri General Assembly will convene on January 4th.