GOP Senate hopefuls stake out stands on 17th Amendment
Missouri’s three major Republican hopefuls for the U.S. Senate may not be clear about the minimum wage, but all are very knowledgeable when it comes to the 17th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
And one of them, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Wildwood, says he’s leaning toward supporting its repeal – even if that would do away with future elections of members of the U.S. Senate.
In place since 1913, the 17th amendment puts in place the direct election of U.S. senators. Before the amendment, senators were chosen by state legislatures.
Backers of the amendment contend that it properly empowers the public and reduces political corruption by curbing the influence of state legislators and party officials.
But opponents, most recently many in the tea party movement, say that the amendment has improperly constricted states' rights by reducing the power of state governments.
Akin echoed that sentiment during Friday’s televised debate in Springfield, Mo., with GOP rivals Sarah Steelman and John Brunner. The debate was sponsored by television station KY3.
All three are vying for the Republican nomination in the Aug. 7 primary, with the victor to challenge U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
The matter of the 17th amendment was discussed at length during the 2-hour event -- and arguably one of the newsier elements.
“In general, I have a very serious concern about the erosion of states’ rights,’’ Akin said. "Repeal of the 17th amendment “might pull that balance back.” (Click here to view the video clip.)
Akin emphasized that he had not taken a definite position on the matter, and then recounted a fight in the state Senate back in the select-the-U.S.-senator days, in which ink bottles were thrown.
Steelman, a former state treasurer, said she opposed repealing the 17th amendment. “A U.S. senator needs to be voted on by the entire population of Missouri,’’ she said. (Click here to view Steelman’s full response.)
Steelman observed that the Missouri General Assembly (where she was a state senator) “can be a good ole boy’’ institution and implied that such an attitude might play a role if it is up to legislators to choose who sits in the U.S. Senate.
Steelman did emphasize, however, that she did support states’ rights and cited the 10th amendment (which gives states the rights not specifically delegated to the federal government).
Brunner, meanwhile, seemed less interested in the whole discussion about the 17th amendment, observing that the matter is “not on the top of my list’’ of key issues. (Click here to view his comments.)
Jobs and taxes are a bigger concern, he said, although "from an academic standpoint, I'm highly sympathetic to the whole concept" of states rights.
Brunner did toss in another issue into the mix, by hinting that he might be more supportive of term limits.
McCaskill, by the way, supports retaining the 17th amendment.