Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kustra Leaves Office, to Host Radio Show

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kustra Leaves Office, to Host Radio Show

Article excerpt

Four months before Gov. Jim Edgar faces re-election, his running mate, Lt. Gov. Bob Kustra, bailed out Tuesday to become a radio talk show host in Chicago.

Kustra's decision sent shock waves through the state Capitol, prompting many observers to speculate that Edgar wanted Kustra off the ticket.

Edgar, a Republican, rebuffed questions that he dumped Kustra so he could run with a woman because he's facing Dawn Clark Netsch, the state's first female candidate for governor. Netsch's running mate is State Sen. Penny Severns, D-Decatur.

"In no way was Bob encouraged or pushed," Edgar said at a news conference in Chicago.

"This was a decision he made. I'll miss having him as a partner. I'll pick a running mate, and it won't have any impact on this election.

"I have not made any decision," the governor added.

"There are no limits. There's no gender test or anything like that. A woman always helps, but that's not one of the criteria I'll be looking at."

But Severns said, "I expect the next announcement will be that he's appointing a female running mate."

Kustra, who was born and raised in St. Louis, acknowledged that his resignation "gives the governor the opportunity to put a man or a woman on the ticket and he could choose a woman. What he will do, I don't know.

"I'm not indispensable," he said. "I don't think there's any great loss here."

Kustra said he would have remained as lieutenant governor if Edgar had told him that he was crucial to the governor's re-election bid.

But Kustra said Edgar advised him to do what was best for himself.

Kustra, 51, said he planned to leave office as soon as possible so he can start work as host of an afternoon talk show starting Aug. 1 on WLS-AM, one of the most popular talk radio stations in Chicago.

Kustra becomes the second lieutenant governor to quit before his term expired. Dave O'Neal, a former sheriff for St. Clair County, resigned as lieutenant governor in 1981 because he said the job was not challenging.

Kustra said he found the lieutenant governor's job to be rewarding because Edgar gave him specific duties: reforming education, creating a pilot program to bring social services to schools, and revitalizing downtown areas in rural communities. …

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