Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

'You're Really Not That Big of a Deal': Outgoing Missouri Lawmakers Offer Advice to Replacements

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

'You're Really Not That Big of a Deal': Outgoing Missouri Lawmakers Offer Advice to Replacements

Article excerpt

JEFFERSON CITY - In an opinion piece that state Rep. Jay Barnes authored for his hometown newspaper, the outgoing capital city Republican said: "The soul of our country is at risk."

"After these eight long years, my principles have not shifted; the climate, however, is now toxic and tribal," Barnes wrote in The Jefferson City News Tribune last weekend. "In the Trump era, the national Republican Party has become dangerously close to a cult."

But Barnes, who earned a Twitter shout-out for his op-ed from former Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, did not share those views during the 2018 election season. Why not? His reasoning is similar to his advice for incoming lawmakers.

"No matter what anyone tells you, you're really not that big of a deal," said the term-limited legislator.

On Wednesday, more than 50 Missouri House members will be sworn in for the first time, along with eight new state senators. Even though voters approved a suite of ethics changes last year, the temptations that come with wielding power will largely remain.

Outgoing lawmakers interviewed by the Post-Dispatch advised their replacements to stay humble and, when possible, cooperate with their adversaries.

"Remember who you are when you arrive, and be that same person or better when you leave," Barnes advised. "The air gets light in the Capitol when the person gets surrounded by lobbyists and others who want things from them."

Sen. Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis, said that to be an effective member of the minority in a Republican-controlled Legislature, Democrats should build relationships with their colleagues.

Hummel, who was elected to the Missouri House in 2008 and who won a special election to the Senate in 2016, lost to Sen.-elect Karla May, D-St. Louis, in the August primary.

"Aside from some issues that were egregious, I always tried to treat every other legislator -- regardless of party -- with respect," Hummel said. …

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