JEFFERSON CITY — When Republican Chris Byrd began campaigning for state attorney general a year ago, he was told that a good politician remains thin throughout a campaign.
“When I started this campaign, I was told if I gained weight I was doing something wrong,” said Byrd, who has yet to add to his pre-campaign weight.
On Oct. 21, Byrd spent the day campaigning in St. Louis, and at every event he was too busy greeting people to find time to eat. No hand escaped Byrd’s grasp as he scoured the room, shaking hands and introducing himself.
Byrd’s opponent, Democratic incumbent Jay Nixon, has also been campaigning hard, making appearances in virtually every part of the state, Nixon’s campaign manager Steve Brown said.
Several attempts were made to contact Nixon, but all requests for an interview were denied. Brown said he would answer questions on Nixon’s behalf.
“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 said the main issue affecting the attorney general’s office is the influence of political ideologies.
“The No. 1 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.”
Byrd has argued throughout the campaign that Nixon has let his personal beliefs cloud his judgment of the law. As an example, Byrd cited the partial-birth abortion ban, which he said Nixon refused to defend because he is an abortion-rights supporter.
Brown said 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.”
The other issues Byrd has addressed in his campaign involve consumer protection and predatory lending and the increasing spread of methamphetamine labs. Both are areas in which Byrd said Nixon is failing the state. He also challenged the incumbent’s focuses, such as 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.”
Nixon’s record on consumer protection is unmatched by any attorney general in the history of the state, Brown said.
“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.
In law enforcement, one of the things Byrd said has not been addressed is the spread of methamphetamine labs. He said the problem has continued to worsen during Nixon’s 12 years in office.
Brown denied the charges, adding that the attorney general is doing his job by 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 each year Nixon has been in office and stressed the attorney general’s record.
“The bottom line is that Nixon has the knowledge of what this job entails and the enthusiasm to get the job done,” Brown said.