Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon wasn’t complaining about the lack of sleep, but he didn’t have to. You just knew he was tired.
In Kansas City on Tuesday morning following an eight-day trade mission to China that got him into Jefferson City late Saturday night, Nixon wasn’t his usual chipper self.
“I hate to go through how little I’ve slept, but you can tell from the mellifluent way I’m speaking today that it’s been a time shift,” he told reporters.
Tired, but not weary enough to get back on the road again to push another cause. This time it was reminding deer hunters across the state how important it is to share what they kill with the needy.
“After harvesting your deer, take it to the nearest processor and indicate how much venison you’d like to contribute,” Nixon said at the Harvesters Community Food Network.
Nixon had been home from China for just a night when he took off for Joplin on Sunday. On Monday, he caught up in the office. Then Tuesday, he talked about dead deer.
But why? Why travel the state when a news release might have done the job? Why the relentless drive that has made him what seems to be the most traveled governor in Missouri history?
“It’s a busy job,” he said. “We’re fine.”
He’s fine all right, seemingly in complete command as he aims at a second term with an election less than a year off. The campaign of Republican Peter Kinder remains adrift. This week came the news that his kickoff for governor was still a week or two off, marking at least the 334th time this year that reporters have been told that it’s just around the corner.
As for Nixon, you can surmise that he is simply willing himself to a second term. Yes, taxpayers foot the bill for that travel, and there’s been a skirmish or two over how the administration spreads those costs out throughout the bureaucracy, making it tougher to glean exactly how much is being spent.
But those stories have mostly faded.
Something else seems to be at play, too. Nixon doesn’t just want to win next year. He wants to dominate. A second straight landslide election for the Democrat in swing-state Missouri could mean some very big things. Like a shot at vice-presidential running mate in 2016.
Or an instant contender for U.S. Senate when Nixon’s second term ends. Remember: Nixon has a long history of Senate lust. He’s run for the office twice before.
There’s a third option — running for the White House. And why not? Governorships lately have become the presidency’s most common steppingstone. Nixon will have succeeded in one of the toughest political crucibles in the country. His conservative, “I’m-sort-of-a-Democrat” approach might have broad appeal.
Feeling jet-lagged, governor?
“I’m fine,” he assured, once again.
To reach Steve Kraske, call 816-234-4312 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.