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.

Ways to Connect

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., campaigned here Saturday on behalf of GOP colleague Roy Blunt's U.S. Senate campaign via Skype, and not in person, after she was hospitalized with an undisclosed illness.

The fundraising event that she was supposed to headline for Blunt has been postponed, said a spokesman for the Springfield, Mo., congressman who is competing Tuesday against eight lesser-known rivals in the state's Republican primary.

Missouri's major candidates for the U.S. Senate are no longer ignoring Proposition C, with the Republicans in particular seeing the health-care measure as a way to attract last-minute support among conservatives in next Tuesday's primary.

Just days before Missouri's primary election, Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered changes at the St. Louis Election Board.

In a brief statement, included in a list of new appointments, the governor's office said that Democrat Eileen McCann is the new chairperson of the board, with Republican Jack Lary serving as secretary.

McCann, who has been on the board since 2006, had been the board's secretary.

U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, doesn't know who his Republican opponent will be -- in fact, Carnahan has two Democratic challengers -- but the congressman already is calling for two debates featuring all the party nominees for Nov. 2.

Carnahan is recommending that the debates be held in September in different parts of the far-flung 3rd congressional district.

"Informed voters make informed choices," Carnahan said.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is putting his clout on the line Tuesday, as he declares political war on the incumbent circuit clerk.

Slay is featured in a campaign mailer going out today on behalf of old law-school classmate Jane Schweitzer, who is challenging Circuit Clerk Mariano Favazza in Tuesday's Democratic primary. The two are pictured together on the front of the mailing.

Martin Casas says St. Louis is ready to host the big national political show -- a presidential convention.
Matthew Gierse | For the St. Louis Beacon

Chuck Berry didn't duck walk, but the 83-year-old rock-and-roll legend still brought the crowd to its feet and dancing in the aisles Thursday night as part of the city of St. Louis' pitch to host the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

For 45 minutes, Berry riffed through his musical catalogue -- from "Hail, Hail Rock 'n' Roll" to "Maybellene" and "Johnny B. Goode" -- amid cheers from several thousand packing the amphitheater in Kiener Plaza.

Despite the furor, some area Tea Party activists say they're not budging from their objections to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's decision to campaign here Saturday for U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt's bid for the U.S. Senate.

"Whenever she endorses, she's taking our name with her," said Jeannine Husky, with the Eureka Tea Party, referring to Bachmann's new "Tea Party Caucus" of members of Congress.

The Missouri Democratic Party says it's filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about "Joe the Plumber's" unorthodox ad campaign on behalf of Republican Chuck Purgason, who's running for the U.S. Senate.

Such a complaint is rare, since it involves a candidate who -- at the moment -- isn't running against a Democrat. Purgason is seeking to knock off the best-known GOP candidate, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Springfield.

Republican state auditor candidate Allen Icet has just rolled out an endorsement from former U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Columbia, who made an unsuccessful GOP for governor in 2008.

Hulshof praised Icet's experience as chairman of the Missouri House Budget Committee.

"Allen has worked tirelessly in his effort to produce balanced budgets," said Hulshof in the release. "I have no doubt Allen's experience and discipline in fiscal matters will serve the state well when he becomes Missouri's next financial watchdog."

More from the release:

State Sen. Rita Days, D-Bel Nor, is no longer neutral in the 14th District contest to select her successor. Days said today that she has endorsed state Rep. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City.

Chappelle-Nadal is competing against three other well-known Democrats: state Reps. Don Calloway of Bel Nor, Ted Hoskins of Berkeley and former University City Mayor Joe Adams.

Days cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

State Sen. Jane Cunningham credited a higher power Wednesday with helping to build the apparent strong public support for Proposition C, the ballot proposal to seeks to exempt Missouri from the health care mandates contained in the new health care law.

"I do believe that God interferes in the affairs of men," said Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, during a fundraising rally Wednesday night in St. Charles aimed at promoting the measure's passage in next Tuesday's statewide election.

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan renewed her attacks today on her best-known Republican rival for the U.S. Senate -- U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt -- by touting him as part of the "culture of corruption in Washington" that she says is hurting average Missourians and small businesses.

Her backdrop was Lubeley's Bakery in Marlborough, where dozens of South County Democrats munched on cookies while Carnahan attempted to crumble Blunt's character.

The people may change, but not the political parties. For the most part, that's the backdrop for this year's Missouri Senate contests.

Statewide, half of the Senate's 34 seats are on this year's ballots. But most of those seats have largely become locks for one party or the other. As a result, there's little chance this year that Missouri Democrats will make much of a dent in their minority status, or that the GOP will add much to its already considerable majority.

The "Attractive Nuisance'' may be gone, but the controversy continues surrounding the non-working cabin cruiser by that name that had been co-owned by U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis.

Carnahan aides confirmed this afternoon that Carnahan and three other co-owners -- Aldermanic President Lewis Reed and the two politicians' wives -- succeeded in selling the boat last month. It had been on the block for two years, aides say. It also has been non-working for most of that time, said campaign spokeswoman Angela Barranco

Bob Soutier, head of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, says the region's roughly 50 unions are signing "a solidarity agreement" that will promote their support and cooperation for the city of St. Louis' bid to host the site for the 2012 Democratic presidential convention.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder reports, via Twitter, that he visited former state Rep. T.D. El Amin, D-St. Louis, today in prison in Alabama.

El-Amin is serving time on a bribery-related charge, in a federal prison on the grounds of Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.

A spokesman for Kinder, a Republican, said he was in the vicinity because Kinder is attending the National Lieutenant Governors' Association summer meeting this week in Biloxi, Miss.

Based on projections from local elections officials, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is estimating that less than a quarter -- 24 percent -- of Missouri's registered voters will turn out next Tuesday.

In the St. Louis area, the turnout predictions ranged from only 19.26 percent in St. Louis to 25.41 percent in St. Louis County and 27.78 percent in St. Charles County. Even Jefferson County, which has a spirited Democratic primary for county executive, is projecting less than 20 percent of its voters will cast ballots.

In the final weeks before an election, candidates no longer raise much money. They spend it.

That's certainly true this month, right before the Aug. 3 election.

The biggest spender in July appears to be Republican Tom Schweich, who's competing against state Rep. Allen Icet for their party's nomination for state auditor.

Missourians for Health Care Freedom, the chief campaign group for Proposition C, launched a statewide radio ad campaign today that will continue until the statewide vote Aug. 3.

The initial ad buy totals $25,000 and will increase if more money comes in, said campaign manager Patrick Tuohey. The ads began airing in west Missouri and should be heard in the St. Louis area by Tuesday, he said.

Happy over his continued edge in the polls, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt celebrated Sunday with St. Louis Republicans in what he declared was his 560th campaign event in Missouri since launching his bid for the U.S. Senate.

Blunt, R-Springfield, highlighted some of his key themes as he energized city Republicans at their annual picnic at Carondelet Park by taking on national Democrats and his expected target this fall, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

Based on their ads and major campaign events, one might think that Republicans Tom Schweich and Allen Icet were running for a post in Washington instead of state auditor in Jefferson City.

The two are vying on Aug. 3 for the GOP nomination for state auditor, and the right to challenge Democratic incumbent Susan Montee in November. But for the moment, she's not the focus of either potential rival.

One of the region's most significant contests on the Aug. 3 ballot is also, according to some political insiders, one of the most ignored.

Voters in Jefferson County will take the first step toward electing their first-ever county executive and a seven-member County Council. After the November elections, the county will formally do away with its old form of county-commission government and follow through with the dictates of the new charter the county voters approved in 2008.

Rock and roll legend Chuck Berry should be duck-walking across Kiener Plaza later this month, while representatives of the Democratic National Committee are scouting around town to see if St. Louis is good enough to host a presidential convention in 2012,

Local Democratic officials say that Berry and "a mystery guest'' will headline a free concert in the plaza on July 29, beginning at 8:30 p.m.

Lawyer Bill Corrigan, a Republican candidate for St. Louis County executive, may be trying avoid an "Al Hanson'' moment.

Beginning today, Corrigan is launching a $90,000-plus TV ad campaign for the Aug. 3 primary.

Political operatives report that Corrigan -- who is hoping to oust St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley in November -- has purchased significant blocks of ad time on area cable outlets and broadcast stations.

Corrigan's campaign declined comment Thursday but issued a statement this morning confirming the basics:

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon spent today in Afghanistan, where he says he was "inspired" and "incredibly impressed by the professionalism" he saw in the troops, especially Missouri's National Guard.

"It's a very, very real war zone that we're in," Nixon said during a telephone conference call with Missouri reporters, conducted Friday night, Afghanistan time.

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, the best-known Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, has just proposed three general-election debates for after the Aug. 3 primary.

The catch is that Carnahan is calling for the debates to feature the nominees from not just the two major parties but also the Constitution and Libertarian parties, which have automatic ballot access in Missouri. (Any other parties have to collect a certain number of signatures to get their candidates on the November ballot in the state.)

Less than two weeks before the Aug. 3 primary, it's time for the candidates to tout last-minute endorsements from various big-name politicians in hopes of swaying any still-undecided voters or, in the case of uncontested races, heighten ones profile for the fall.  

Today, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., announced he has chosen sides in the combative Democratic primary in the 24th state Senate district, and is endorsing former state Rep. Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur.

Brad Hildebrand's small AM radio station in Washington, Mo., is called "The Mouth."

And the station is definitely making political waves with its morning voice: state Rep. Brian Nieves, R-Washington and a candidate in arguably the region's most competitive Republican primary for the state Senate.

A soldier shows Gov. Nixon a MRAP vehicle (Mine Resistant Ambush Protection).
Provided by the governor's office

For the second July in a row, almost to the day, Gov. Jay Nixon is in Iraq meeting with Missouri troops.

Nixon's just recently announced that the governor left Jefferson City on Monday and, after a short stop in Washington, headed overseas with four other governors as part of a Pentagon-organized trip. Last year's tour also included a visit to Afghanistan.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine says his visit today to St. Louis, coinciding with President Barack Obama's State of the Union address does, indeed, underscore the national importance of Missouri's congressional elections this year.

But Kaine also hopes that Democrats nationally will take a lesson from Missouri's past and "avoid freaking out'' about recent political setbacks.

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