Gov. Jay Nixon withdraws two higher education appointments

Thursday, May 5, 2011 | 3:39 p.m. CDT; updated 7:46 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 5, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has withdrawn two higher education appointments.

On Thursday, Nixon withdrew the appointment of Columbia lawyer Craig Van Matre to theUM System Board of Curators. The appointment of Springfield lawyer Thomas Strong to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education was also withdrawn.

"I don't understand how things work in Jefferson City, but I hope that at some point I will be able to assist our state on higher education issues," Van Matre said.

Nixon's withdrawal of Van Matre's nomination still leaves open the possibility that the governor could appoint him on an interim basis when the legislature adjourns for the year.

"I'm interested in helping in any way the governor thinks I can be of value," he said.

Strong had identified his political party affiliation as an "independent." Some Republican senators have questioned whether that's true. Strong has donated to Nixon, and his law firm won a contract when Nixon was attorney general to handle Missouri's portion of the national tobacco settlement.

Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer said Van Matre's appointment was held up because of attempts to reach a deal on another possible appointment to the state Probation and Parole Board.

Missourian reporter Michael Davis contributed to this report.

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