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Profiling Attorney General Candidates

October 25, 2004
By: Katheryn Mohr
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - When Republican Chris Byrd began campaigning for attorney general a year ago, he was told that a sign of a good politician is one that remains thin throughout their campaign.

"When I started this campaign I was told if I gained weight I was doing something wrong," Byrd said, who has yet to gain any weight in the past year.

On Oct. 21 Byrd spent the day campaigning throughout St. Louis and every venue he spoke at he adhered to this idea of political anorexia.

No hand was able to escape Byrd's grasp as he scoured the room shaking hands and introducing himself.

Attorney General Jay Nixon, who is running on the Democratic ticket for his fourth term in office, was not present at any of the venues that Byrd attended throughout the day -- but Steve Brown, Nixon's campaign manager, said they have been campaigning hard throughout the state.

Brown said that Nixon has been making appearances and going to some forums in virtually all parts of the state.

"Our goal was to hit all four corners of the state, as well as Jefferson City and Columbia, and I believe we have done that," Brown said.

Byrd, Nixon's opponent, said that the number one issue presently affecting the attorney general's office is the influence of political ideologies on the enforcement of laws.

"The number one overriding issue and the whole reason that I am really in this race is that the attorney general's office should enforce the laws of the state of Missouri without regard to personal beliefs," Byrd said.

"And our present attorney general does not do that."

Throughout Byrd's campaign he has argued that third-term incumbent Nixon has let his personal political beliefs cloud his judgment of the law.

Byrd continually cites the fact that Nixon is an abortion-rights supporter and he said that resulted in Nixon's refusal to defend the partial-abortion ban.

"We need an attorney general who puts the views of the state first and not personal views first," Byrd said.

"Unfortunately, we have an attorney general who is doing the exact opposite."

Brown said that all voters need to do is look at how Nixon defended the conceal and carry weapons law to know that Byrd's claims are unfounded.

"Jay defended the concealed and carry law even though he is on record saying he is personally against it," Brown said.

"He defended it because it is the law and I don't think that anybody needs to look any further than that," Brown said.

The two other main issues that Byrd is addressing in his campaign involve consumer protection and predatory lending and the increasing spread of methamphetamine labs throughout the state.

Both of these issues are areas in which Byrd says the current attorney general is failing the state.

In regards to consumer protection, Byrd said Nixon has made one of his big focuses the issue of the no-call list.

"When you can no longer disturb people at dinner due to the no-call list I think that is a good thing because it makes people happy, Byrd said.

"But when people are losing their livelihood and going into bankruptcy because of issues involving predatory lending that are not being addressed I think that is more important."

"And I think that is something we need to address as a state with the attorney general taking the lead in that," Byrd said.

Brown said, "Jay Nixon's record on consumer protection is unmatched by any attorney general in the history of the state of Missouri.

"And any consumer protection case, predatory lending or otherwise, that comes in front of Jay's office will be prosecuted to the fullest extent under the Missouri statutes," Brown said.

Byrd said that in law enforcement one of the things that has not been addressed and continues to get worse is methamphetamines.

He said that [Nixon] has been the attorney general for twelve years and during that time the problem of methamphetamines in this state has continued to get worse.

Brown said that if you look at the numbers you can see that the attorney general is doing his job in regards to cracking down on methamphetamine labs.

"Jay is busting more methamphetamine labs and he is getting the job done, Brown said.

"His job is to fight crime and that is exactly what he is doing."

Brown added that the crime rate has continued to go down every year that Nixon has been in office.

Brown said that Nixon's record between him and his opponent is clear.

"Nixon is a third-term incumbent attorney general who understands the complexities and the depths of the issues that come before the office of the attorney general, Brown said.

"And he has shown that he is willing to take on and fight all these issues."

"The bottomline is that Nixon has the knowledge of what this job entails and the enthusiasm to get the job done, Brown said."

When asked if Nixon planned on campaigning during this last week before the election, Brown said, "We are continuing to campaign until Nov. 2."

Nixon's campaign refused to make Nixon available for an interview. Brown said he would answer any questions for Nixon.