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

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."

State Sen. Chuck Purgason's smaller-than-expected vote tally in Tuesday's Republican U.S. Senate primary, coupled with the defeat of state Rep. Allen Icet in the GOP contest for auditor, has prompted some post-primary talk about the true clout of Missouri's Tea Party movement.

"The Tea Party movement did not show a lot of strength,'' said Dave Robertson, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "The Republican 'establishment' was able to withstand the assault from the Tea Party wing."

Peter Kinder primary election night 2010
Rachel Heidenry | 2010 | St. Louis Beacon

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder was fitting in national TV and newspaper interviews today around his previously scheduled afternoon flight to San Diego to take part in a meeting of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.

For all the flaps over some of his ill-conceived Tweets in recent weeks, it appears that Kinder was arguably the biggest victor in Tuesday's primary -- Republican or Democrat -- who was not on the ballot.

One second after Tuesday's polls closed, and before the votes were counted, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley launched his first full-throttle campaign attack against Republican Bill Corrigan.

Peter Kinder primary election night 2010
Rachel Heidenry | 2010 | St. Louis Beacon

Proposition C won handily Tuesday, as Missouri voters went to the polls for the state's primary that sets the table for this fall's elections.

The biggest surprise was Republican state auditor candidate Tom Schweich's unexpectedly strong victory over rival Allen Icet, after polls had shown them neck and neck.

Proposition C seeks to exempt Missouri from some of the new federal health-care mandates, although both sides agree a legal battle is expected.

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan didn't mention it yesterday during her Senate primary victory speech, but the Missouri Republican Party -- and her mother -- made note of it today.

Today is Robin Carnahan's 49th birthday. It's also the 49th birthday of the nation's 44th and current president, fellow Democrat Barack Obama.

The Missouri GOP and former Sen. Jean Carnahan, D-Mo. -- who both make note of the U.S. Senate race -- obviously have different takes on Robin Carnahan's shared big day.

The state Republican Party said in its release, in part:

Midway through today's polling, St. Louis County Democratic elections director Joe Donahue is slightly revising his turnout projects -- downward.

Donahue estimated early this afternoon that the countywide pace appears to be on track for a final turnout of 18-20 percent of the county's 600,000-plus registered voters. That's down from his initial projection of about 25 percent, which was in line with the state's estimate.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan's office just announced that only two initiative petitions have been certified for the Nov. 2 ballot. And the proposal to change the way Missouri selects its judges is not one of them.

Today was the deadline for announcing certification.

Carnahan's staff reported that the judicial measure, which would have called for the election of all Missouri judges, only turned in enough valid signatures in one of the six required congressional districts.

By the numbers

Even before the polls close today, state Auditor Susan Montee -- a Democrat with no serious primary opposition -- will be on the streets with St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom and Mayor Francis Slay to visit "National Night Out" events around the city to highlight anti-crime and anti-drug efforts. 

Tuesday's primary -- featuring candidate contests, a St. Louis school bond issue and the first statewide vote on federal health care reform -- will be an end and the beginning.

For many candidates, Tuesday's primary results (click here to read the Beacon's overview of the races and issues) will spell the end of their political hopes. But for others, their primary victories will launch their new campaigns for Nov. 2 election.

Election-eve, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin(left) is announcing his support for Republican state auditor candidate Allen Icet (right) in the latter's contest with GOP rival Tom Schweich.

Akin, R-Town and Country, did not mention Schweich -- who has the backing of several other top Republicans -- in his remarks.

Akin simply said in a statement, "After seeing the terrible mismanagement of Washington over the last two years, the chance to elect Republican Allen Icet as Missouri’s auditor is good news.

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