Jo Mannies

Political Reporter

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter.  She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

Ways to Connect

A vintage photo of an elephant walking.
Wikimedia Commons

When Missouri Republicans gather this weekend in Branson for their once-every-four-years convention, the focus won’t be just on presidential delegates.

Much of the attention will center on the party’s core beliefs, and what issues it deems most important, as GOP candidates from Donald Trump on down appeal to the public for votes.

Known as the “party platform,’’ the thick document gets into the nitty-gritty on everything from same-sex marriage – the GOP opposes it – to gun rights, immigration and tax issues.

Members of the Missouri House of Representatives throw their papers in the air to mark the end of the legislative session on Friday in Jefferson City.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

With Missouri legislators heading home, the focus in Jefferson City now shifts to Gov. Jay Nixon – who will decide what to sign and what to veto among close to 140 bills now sitting on his desk.

And despite what the governor called “stark differences’’ of opinion, Nixon sounded more conciliatory in his post-session address than he has in recent years. The governor’s implied message Friday was that, from his perspective, this 4 and ½-month session could have been worse.

After Sen. Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis started to filibuster, Sen. Bob Dixon withdrew his crime bill.
Jason Rosenbaum | St Louis Public Radio

Updated with final House action - The Missouri House has sent to Gov. Jay Nixon a broad version of what’s called a Stand Your Ground law, that would allow a law-abiding person to use deadly force in any public place, even if they are not under immediate threat of harm.

The bill also expands concealed-carry rights.

The House's final 114- 36 vote was comfortably above the 109 votes needed to overturn a possible Nixon veto. The Senate's 24-8 vote, taken earlier Friday,  had two supportive votes more than needed to override the governor.

Passage makes Missouri the first state to pass such a law in years. Backers say the Stand Your Ground provision is needed for protection. Opponents contended the measure would legalize murder.

St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Updated at 2:20 a.m. with override failure - A photo ID proposal will definitely be on the ballot, and it will be up to Gov. Jay Nixon to decide if more cold beer is on the way.

But the surprising news actually came early Friday morning: The Senate failed to override Nixon's veto of the paycheck protection or — depending on your position on the measure — the deception bill.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Missouri voters will likely decide later this year whether to amend the state’s Constitution so that the General Assembly can require that all voters show a government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot.

The state House is expected to take final action today on the ballot proposal, called SJR53, after the Senate passed it late Wednesday by a vote of 24-8.  House approval is expected.

Gov. Jay Nixon has no voice in the proposed constitutional amendment, other than deciding whether it goes on the August or November statewide ballot.

Zika virus, here shown as a digitally-colorized transmission electron micrograph, can be transmitted by mosquitoes or sexually.
Cynthia Goldsmith | Centers for Disease Control

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says the Senate is likely to vote by next week on money to be used to fight the Zika virus, the disease spread by mosquitoes and blamed for thousands of debilitating birth defects in South and Central America.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Blunt denied assertions by some Senate Democrats, and the White House, that he and other Senate Republicans have been dragging their feet when it comes to allocating money to battle the insects and the virus.

Blunt acknowledged that Zika, and the mosquitoes that carry it, are likely to arrive in Missouri this summer.

Jake Hummel
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

JEFFERSON CITY - On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are on location in Jefferson City for the final week of this latest Missouri General Assembly’s session.  On Tuesday afternoon, the pair welcomed back House Minority Leader Jake Hummel to the program -- by stopping by his office.

StanJourdan | Flickr

For now, it’s all over but the counting. The Missouri Secretary of State’s office will be busy the next few weeks determining whether five initiative-petition proposals collected enough valid signatures to get on the state’s August or November ballot.

Missouri Capitol building
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Barring another sex scandal, the Missouri General Assembly could be facing a low-key final week.

The thinner-than-usual final schedule reflects, in part, legislators' success this year — and last — in passing the state's bloc of budget bills early. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was required to approve or veto by last Friday the state's planned spending for the fiscal year that begins July 1. He only used his line-item veto on two items on Friday; lawmakers overrode last week his earlier veto of their new school-funding formula.

Bev Randles
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome lieutenant governor hopeful Bev Randles to the show.

The Kansas City Republican is one of four major candidates from both parties seeking the statewide office, which is being vacated by Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. Randles is squaring off against state Sen. Mike Parson in the GOP primary, while former U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan and state Rep. Tommie Pierson are seeking the Democratic nomination.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump points to protesters that he tells to "get out," during his speech at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis on March 11, 2016.
Bill Greenblatt I UPI

Just days after Ted Cruz’s Missouri backers scored local victories over Donald Trump, the Cruz camp is mulling its next move now that Cruz has dropped out as a presidential candidate.

But Missouri congresswoman Ann Wagner, a Republican from Ballwin who had backed Cruz, is mincing no words about Trump – who she is not ready to endorse.

“I have no intention of supporting Hillary Clinton, now or ever,” Wagner said in an exclusive interview. “However, I’m like any other voter. A candidate has to earn my vote. And thus far, Donald Trump has not.”

Mike Colona
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back state Rep. Mike Colona to the program. The St. Louis Democrat was a guest on the show back in 2013.

Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

In the midst of a re-election campaign, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says he won’t be attending this summer’s Republican presidential nominating convention in Cleveland.

Blunt has attended most presidential conventions during his congressional career, although he notes that his visits have usually been only for a day or two. His decision to skip this one entirely, he says, has nothing to do with the party’s turmoil over its likely nominee, Donald Trump – nor his heated fall contest against Democrat Jason Kander.

Republicans at 2nd District convention at Parkway West High School gather to elect presidential delegates.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Former St. Charles state legislator Carl Bearden is co-chairman of GOP presidential contender Ted Cruz’s Missouri campaign. As of Saturday,  Bearden also is a delegate to the Republican presidential convention — for Donald Trump.

Bearden is among a number of Cruz supporters who were elected Saturday to fill the bulk of Trump’s 15 delegate slots at stake at Republican congressional district conventions around the state. Another nine delegate slots were designated for Cruz.

Democrats gather at the 1st Congressional Caucus.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Democrats have turned to a mix of party veterans and newcomers to fill the first wave of delegate spots for this summer’s presidential convention.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s sister, Anne McCaskill Moroh, is among the 47 Democratic delegates elected Thursday night at eight congressional conventions held around the state, including three in the St. Louis area. The delegates also include three St. Louis aldermen: Antonio French, D-21st Ward, Jack Coatar, D-7th, and Megan Green, D-15th Ward. Other delegates include Sanders backer Jabari Allen, a 24-year-old political newcomer who works for a home-security startup, and John Burroughs history teacher James Wagner.

The battle between supporters of Ted Cruz, left, and Donald Trump for Missouri's Republican delegates is not over.
Wikipedia images

Missouri state Sen. Bob Onder exemplifies Donald Trump’s worst nightmare.

Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, hopes to get elected Saturday as a delegate from the 2nd Congressional District to this summer’s Republican presidential convention. But Onder is a supporter of GOP hopeful Ted Cruz, while all the 2nd District delegates will be bound to Trump, who carried the district and Missouri during the state’s March 15 presidential primary.

“If I am chosen on Saturday to go to Cleveland, on the first ballot, I’ll be voting for Donald Trump,’’ Onder said.

Bob Onder
Marshall Griffin I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Sen. Bob Onder. The Lake Saint Louis Republican was a guest on the show in 2014 soon after he was elected to his first term in the Missouri Senate.

Onder represents part of St. Charles County. His district includes most of that county’s fast-growing western suburbs, including Wentzville, O’Fallon, Lake Saint Louis and part of St. Peters.

Eric Greitens, one of four Missouri GOP candidates for governor, sought Sunday night to clarify his position when it comes to a proposed Missouri law that would bar government penalties against “individuals and religious entities who refuse to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies due to sincerely held religious beliefs.”

During a candidate forum at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Greitens said his opposition to the measure — known as Senate Joint Resolution 39 — stems from its approach, not its aim. Greitens said he wants Missouri to avoid the economic backlash that has hurt socially conservative states like North Carolina and Mississippi, which recently passed laws deemed anti-gay.

Kurt Schaefer
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Sen. Kurt Schaefer to the program. The Columbia Republican, who usually sports cowboy boots, last was a guest of the show in late 2014.

Curran | Flickr

For all the talk about increasing Missouri’s tobacco tax to provide more money for education and transportation, the state’s two dueling tobacco-tax proposals appear caught in a longstanding dispute that has nothing to do with their objectives.

Tobacco companies are the chief donors to both initiative-petition campaigns that seek to increase the state’s 17-cent-a-pack tobacco tax, now the nation’s lowest. One would raise the tax by 23 cents a pack to pay for transportation improvements, while the other would hike the tax by 60 cents a pack to pay for early childhood programs.

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt are the front runners for the Democratic and Republican nominations in the next Senate race.
official photos

With Missouri’s primary and general elections just months away, some of the state’s top candidates are focusing on their base as much as their bank account.

That’s particularly true of the state’s U.S. Senate candidates — Republican incumbent Roy Blunt and his Democratic rival, Secretary of State Jason Kander.

Democratic National Convention 1876
Cornell University Collection of Political Americana

Donald Trump may have won Missouri’s Republican primary on March 15, but there’s no guarantee he’ll win the delegate war that’s about to get underway.

Later this week, both state parties will begin the three-tier caucus system that will be used to select most of the 84 Democratic delegates and 52 Republican delegates who will attend the parties’ presidential elections.

Elijah Haahr
Mallory Daily | St. Louis Public Radio intern

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome state Rep. Elijah Haahr to the show for the first time.

The Springfield Republican was first elected to the Missouri House in 2012. Haahr represents a somewhat suburban area of Springfield, an area that encompasses a very popular Bass Pro Shop. And he is chairman of the House Emerging Issues Committee, which has been a staging area for some high-profile pieces of legislation.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Shortly after the Missouri General Assembly returns Tuesday from its weeklong recess, lawmakers are expected to attempt their first override this session of a bill vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon.

And either way, the vote could be close.

The bill in question – dubbed by backers as “paycheck protection’’ and by critics as “paycheck deception” – would make it tougher for many public-employee unions and teacher groups to collect dues or fees.

Michael Brown Sr. and organizers with his Chosen for Change Foundation talk outside the Ferguson Community Center after the City Council's vote to approve the terms of the Department of Justice's consent decree.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A few months ago, Starsky Wilson ended his time on the Ferguson Commission with stirring and strong words for politicians who would have to do the work ahead.

“If the win for you is getting elected, we don’t need you,” said Wilson, the president and CEO of the Deaconess Foundation. “If you eat steak because you got what you wanted in the community that’s still fighting for a generation, you’re not the one.”

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay back to the program for the second time.

The Democratic citywide official has been in office since 2001 and already is the longest-serving mayor in the city's history. Slay has developed a sophisticated and successful political organization, and he’s often played a big role in helping other candidates and ballot issues succeed.

Both sides in the earnings-tax campaign are mailing fliers.
Scanned documents

If you are a wage earner and live or work in the city of St. Louis, you pay the city’s 1 percent earnings tax. No exceptions.

Ads and fliers that claim otherwise are “a big lie,’’ says Mary Ellen Ponder, chief of staff to Mayor Francis Slay. 

The ads and fliers come from the group, Vote No On The E-Tax. It is running a vigorous campaign to persuade St. Louis voters to decide on April 5 to phase out the city’s earnings tax, which has been in place since 1959.

Justin Alferman
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome state Rep. Justin Alferman to the show for the first time.

The Hermann Republican is serving his first term in the Missouri House. His heavily-GOP seat includes parts of Franklin, Gasconade and Osage counties, and it takes in most of Washington, Mo.

Missouri Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Koster is joining three of his Republican rivals in calling on the fourth — Eric Greitens — to return $1 million donations that he’s received from a California businessman who’s accused of keeping a woman as a sex slave for 13 years.

Greitens’ three rivals — Peter Kinder, John Brunner and Catherine Hanaway — are expected to bring up the issue during their forum tonight in Columbia, Mo.

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