Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

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Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has retooled his lawsuit against the federal health-care law to make it clear that he's not suing on behalf of the state of Missouri.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, in turn, dropped his court challenge of Kinder's initial suit, which Koster said at the time was ambiguous as to the lieutenant governor's intent.

Karla May, left, and Hope Whitehead
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Beacon | file photo

State Rep. Hope Whitehead, D-St. Louis, is challenging her narrow defeat in the Aug. 3 primary by Karla May, who was backed by Mayor Francis Slay.

Whitehead has scheduled a news conference at noon today downtown, in front of the Civil Courts building, where she plans to file a lawsuit asserting that city Democratic Party chairman Brian Wahby improperly allowed May to post "challengers" inside the polling locations.

In what's already shaping up as a take-no-prisoners U.S. Senate contest in Missouri, the independent spending is about to explode.

Joe Biden in stl
Bill Greenblat | UPI | 2010

Vice President Joe Biden exhorted fellow Democrats gathered here Friday to remember what they stand for, and what they've delivered, when they make their case to the American public to keep Democrats in control in Washington, and to elect more Democratic governors.

Biden contended that Democrats can fare best in this fall's elections if the party and its candidates "lay out honestly what we did and honestly what the alternative is."

As it stands, said Biden and other national Democratic leaders, Americans are hearing a earful of inaccuracies and some outright lies.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine asserted Thursday that the Republican emphasis on the proposed mosque near New York's Ground Zero, and the growing inaccurate belief that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, "confirm a narrative" that the GOP is "whipping up fear and division" in the hope that such destructive tactics will win votes.

Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine asserted Thursday that the Republican emphasis on the proposed mosque near New York's Ground Zero, and the growing inaccurate belief that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, "confirm a narrative" that the GOP is "whipping up fear and division" in the hope that such destructive tactics will win votes.

"The party of 'No' is wanting to go backward," Kaine told reporters after addressing national Democratic officials during today's "executive committee" portion of its two-day meeting in St Louis.

The campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Robin Carnahan is demanding an apology this morning from the camp of Republican rival Roy Blunt, in the wake of a new Blunt campaign Web video -- now pulled off the internet -- that features footage from New York City's Ground Zero, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, juxaposed with audio of Carnahan declining to take a position on a mosque proposed to be built nearby.

Carnahan, currently Missouri's secretary of state, said in a statement this morning:

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says that President Barack Obama has issued a major disaster declaration for "areas across Missouri hit by flooding, severe storms and excessive rain during June and July."

Such a declaration means that the federal government will cover 75 percent of the eligible emergency response and recovery expenses, beginning with the storms on June 12.

State Rep. Cynthia Davis will still wield political clout, even though she lost her Republican bid for the state Senate.

Davis, R-O'Fallon, confirmed this afternoon that she has been elected chair of the St. Charles County Republican Central Committee, effective immediately. The vote, conducted Tuesday night, was unanimous, she said.

Davis' selection for the unpaid but powerful post underscores the clout of the Tea Party movement in St. Charles County.

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, has gone on the air with her first campaign TV spot -- which features her in jeans talking about jobs, blasting Washington and "the government."

Emerson, who has been in office since 1996 and remains Missouri's first and only Republican woman elected to Congress, offers up an outside-the-beltway image as she heads into her latest re-election bid.

Republican congressional candidate Ed Martin condemned late Tuesday the suspected arson attack on the campaign headquarters of U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay appears to be the first prominent Missouri politician -- Democrat or Republican -- to weigh in on the national debate over the proposed construction of a new Islamic center and mosque in New York.  

The proposed site is just a few blocks away from Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center towers stood before they were destroyed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 people (in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.).

Democrats in Missouri are abuzz over today's report in Politico, the national online politics site, about the "$22 million TV ad blitz" soon to be launched by the National Republican Congressional Committee in 40 House districts around the country.

No Missouri House seats are among them, despite frequent national GOP assertions that U.S. Reps. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, and Ike Skelton, D-Lexington, are among their targets.

A top official from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is accompanying the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, U.S Rep. Roy Blunt, around the state today to emphasize the chamber's commitment to help the congressman from southwest Missouri as he seeks to succeed another of their favorites -- retiring U.S. Sen. Christopher S. "Kit" Bond.

At a "prayer vigil" held Monday night by his allies, state Rep. Brian Nieves blamed his legal troubles on unnamed "kingmakers and the powerbrokers in the state of Missouri" who he contends want to block his likely ascension to the Missouri Senate.

"They want to hang me up like a scarecrow," asserted Nieves, R-Washington, to at least 150 people attending a riverfront rally in downtown Washington, Mo. The crowd frequently broke into cheers and standing ovations to show their support.

Hometown supporters of embattled state Rep. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, Mo., are planning to hold a prayer vigil beginning at 6 p.m. this evening in Rennick Riverfront Park.

Nieves is telling allies that he didn't organize the event but does plan to attend. Allies say it is in response to the legal problems he faces as a result of an allegedly combative encounter in Nieves' office the day after he won the Aug. 3 GOP primary for the 26th District state Senate post.

Amid state and national handwringing among Democratic officials and the faithful, Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine are headlining a meeting of national and regional Democrats in St. Louis later this week.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was quick to thank the U.S. House Tuesday for its vote in favor of a bill allocating $26 billion to the states to stem projected teacher layoffs and Medicaid cuts, in the wake of the continued economic downturn.

In Missouri's case, more than half of its expected share will go toward the next fiscal year's budget, said state Budget Director Linda Luebbering in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

With legal fights looming, state Rep. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, is becoming more visible and vocal in defending himself against accusations that he threatened and assaulted a campaign worker for a GOP rival.

The first related court hearing, originally set for Thursday morning in Cole County, has been postponed until Sept. 2.

Missouri's two major nominees for the U.S. Senate -- Democrat Robin Carnahan and Republican Roy Blunt -- are launching new campaign efforts as they head into the final dog days of August.

And both camps are focusing on Blunt.

Carnahan has just gone up on the air with her campaign's first TV ad, which is running statewide. Although allied groups have run ads attacking Blunt (an indirect benefit for Carnahan) since late last year, this is the first spot that the Carnahan campaign is paying for.

With pollution closing some Lake of the Ozarks' public beaches, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster plans to hold a symposium next week on the lake's water quality problems.

Gov. Jay Nixon is to kick off the two-day gathering, set for next Wednesday and Thursday.

According to Koster's office, "The purpose of the public symposium is to explore the total range of water quality issues confronting the Lake of the Ozarks today and over the next 20 years."

U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, and his 3rd District Republican rival -- lawyer Ed Martin -- have agreed to debates, although they haven't agreed on how many, when or where.

In fact, Martin has announced a series of three weekly debates in August, beginning next Tuesday. Trouble is, Carnahan wasn't consulted and doesn't plan to show up.

The trouble with Florissant, says state Auditor Susan Montee, is that there aren't many Missouri communities like it.

Florissant has what is called a "strong mayor" form of government that many area mayors may covet (notably, the last half-dozen St. Louis mayors), but most don't have.

Tuesday night, Montee outlined the findings of her office's exhaustive and expensive audit of Florissant's city government, conducted at the behest of petitioning city residents.

U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., swiftly registered his sorrow today over the death of a longtime former colleague, former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.

Stevens, 86, was among five who died in a plane crash Monday in his home state. Stevens lost a bid for re-election in 2008 following a corruption conviction, which was tossed out last year.

Said Bond: "Like all of Ted’s friends and family, Linda and I are shocked and saddened by this tragedy.

Brian Nieves
Official photo

A court date has been set for Thursday morning in Cole County Court in Jefferson City on a protection order being sought against state Rep. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, Mo. Nieves just won a primary last week to be the party's nominee for state senator in the 26th District, which includes parts of St. Louis and Franklin counties.

At the "Women for Roy Blunt" event
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Beacon | 2010

Former Missouri House Speaker/U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway, who's now a lawyer working with the Ashcroft Group, helped launch Monday a "Women for Roy Blunt'' coalition aimed at promoting the U.S. Senate bid of the southwest Missouri congressman.

Hanaway will cohost the coalition, along with Renee Hulshof, a radio-show host in Columbia, Mo., and the wife of former U.S. Rep. (and unsuccessful 2008 gubernatorial nominee) Kenny Hulshof.

Roy Blunt, now the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate, and U.S. House colleague Todd Akin were both swift today to assert that July's jobs figures make clear that A) the federal stimulus spending hasn't worked and B) the Bush tax cuts can't be allowed to expire.

Blunt, R-Springfield, has been highlighting his "Where are the Jobs?" slogan -- with signs as well as talk -- ever since his victory party Tuesday night in south St. Louis.

After California's ban on gay marriage was tossed out by a judge this week, could Missouri's gay-marriage ban be next?

That fear prompted Frieda Keough to show up in Clayton's Memorial Park on Thursday, homemade sign in hand, to join about 70 others protesting Wednesday's decision by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker. He ruled that California's Proposition 8, approved by voters in 2008, violated the rights of gays and lesbians who wish to marry.

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Action Fund, an environmental advocacy group, is launching a new statewide ad campaign in Missouri that accuses U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, of being too close to major oil companies.

A spokeswoman said the ad buy is "in the six figures" for a week's worth of spots on cable and broadcast stations in St. Louis and Kansas City.

Missouri's monthly income numbers continued their decline in July, but state Budget Director Linda Luebbering says the 4.2 percent drop -- compared to July 2009 -- was not unexpected.

"We're actually about right on track," Luebbering said in an interview today.

The current state budget, for the fiscal year that began on July 1, is based on an annual income increase of 2.3 percent. But Luebbering said said that budget crafters "knew we were going to start the year in the negative."

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