Bruce Franks | St. Louis Public Radio

Bruce Franks

Protesting youth were stranded on the street after curfew when Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew in Ferguson in August 2014.
File photo | Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American

The 2014 death of Michael Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old, at the hands of a white police officer unleashed anger and activism throughout the St. Louis area.

Some who marched in the streets of Ferguson after August 9 of that year remain committed to changing hearts, minds and laws throughout St. Louis and Missouri, despite setbacks at the ballot box and within legislative chambers. But activists also concede that policy alone won't bring St. Louis together: It'll require people of all stripes acknowledging the realities of a racially divided region and state.

Gov. Eric Greitens sits down for an interview with St. Louis Public Radio in downtown St. Louis on July 17, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the span of a week, Gov. Eric Greitens unveiled two high-profile proposals: A proposal aimed at reducing violent crime in St. Louis and a statewide prescription drug monitoring program.

Critics of the Republican governor contended the plans lacked specificity – and questioned whether either proposal would stem the tide of St. Louis violence or opioid abuse. But in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio on Monday, Greitens positioned his two plans as "bold" action that should have been taken a long time ago.

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. joined St. Louis on the Air on Thursday to discuss his freshman year as a state representative and his plans for the future.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Democratic State Representative Bruce Franks Jr., representing District 78 in St. Louis, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Thursday to reflect on his first year as a state lawmaker. He also discussed the challenges facing his district and the state of Missouri going forward.

Downtown St. Louis,  looking east
File photo | Brent Jones | St. Louis Beacon

After the difficult process this year of piecing together Missouri’s budget, lawmakers believe they’ve found a way to get more money for vital state services: Cutting tax credits.

But a report from state Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office shows that even with big changes to popular incentives, it could be years before the state saves a significant amount of money.

State Rep. Bruce Franks takes part in a recording of Politically Speaking at Yaquis on Cherokee.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies shook things up, recording the show with state Rep. Bruce Franks on Wednesday in front of a live audience at Yaquis on Cherokee in St. Louis.

Franks, a St. Louis Democrat, was elected to the Missouri House last year to represent the 78th District, which stretches from Carr Square to Dutchtown in the eastern part of the city.

Carr Square residents Kevin Costello and Joseph Futrell gather petitions against Biddle House outside the public forum introducing the agencies that applied to run it on Wed. May, 25, 2016.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A new homeless shelter north of downtown St. Louis violates the U.S. Constitution by promoting segregation, according to a complaint lodged Monday with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development by two St. Louis-area state representatives.  

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A freshman Democratic lawmaker from St. Louis has his first major victory: persuading the Republican-controlled Missouri House to restore funding for a jobs program that Gov. Eric Greitens wants to cut entirely.

 

The amendment sponsored by Bruce Franks would put $6 million toward the state’s youth summer jobs program in St. Louis and Kansas City.

This is Franks' first time running for office.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated with statement from Tishaura Jones)

State Rep. Bruce Franks will not run for St. Louis mayor.

Franks, a St. Louis Democrat, currently holds office as the State Representative for the 78th District of Missouri. On Thursday, he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was making the necessary moves to become a write-in mayoral candidate in the April 4 general election. That would have put him on a collision course with Alderman Lyda Krewson, who narrowly won Tuesday’s Democratic primary for mayor.

But, on Friday morning, Franks then told St. Louis Public Radio he was reversing course and will not be pursuing the mayor’s office. He said he was concerned Republican Gov. Eric Greitens would leave the 78th House District seat vacant until 2018 if he prevailed.

Three men stand at a podium with microphones at St. Louis City Hall.
Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft kicked off a media campaign in the marbled rotunda of St. Louis City Hall on Monday to inform the public about Missouri's new voter ID law, which takes effect June 1.

The law that voters gave legislators the constitutional authority to enact in November will require any voter who can’t show a valid photo ID to either provide supplemental documents and their signature or cast a provisional ballot. The first election to be affected takes place Aug. 8.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens delivers his first State of the State address last week in Jefferson City.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

In just three weeks, Missouri saw the installation of a GOP legislative supermajority, the inauguration of Republican statewide officials and Gov. Eric Greitens’ first State of the State address. These ceremonies came as Missouri’s political leaders appear ready to pass seismic policy changes  – and deal with a worsening budget situation.

As is customary when I spent time at Missouri’s beautiful Capitol, I pulled together some odds and ends to provide a bit more context about the big-ticket items on the state’s legislative and executive radar.

Reny Alfonso, 7, carries American flag pinwheels at the "Forward Together" bus tour kickoff event outside the Missouri History Museum Sunday afternoon.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Out of the seemingly infinite adjectives to describe politics in 2016, the one that came to mind is exhausting.

This year featured enough twists, turns, surprises, setbacks, revelations, triumphs and defeats to fill a set of encyclopedias. From competitive presidential and statewide primaries to epic general election battles, 2016 will clearly be remembered as a watershed year in the Show Me State's political history.

State Rep. Kip Kendrick
Nathan Lawrence | KBIA | File photo

Democrats in the Missouri House are calling on Gov.-elect Eric Greitens to keep his campaign promise to clean up Jefferson City.

They've pre-filed several bills that range from banning gifts from lobbyists to giving the state ethics commission the authority to prosecute violations. Democrat Kip Kendrick of Columbia said they want to see if the incoming Republican governor is serious about ethics reform.

Participants in St. Louis' Black & Engaged trainings pose with fists raised after part of the weekend's sessions.
Charles Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

While the presidential election on Nov. 8 looms large across the nation, St. Louis activists and community organizers are trying to refocus the conversation on local politics. Black & Engaged is a national project for mobilizing black voters under 40. Organizers held its final civic engagement training in downtown St. Louis as part of their four-city tour this month.  

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay speaks at a press conference earlier this year.
Wiley Price I St. Louis American

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay to the program.

Clay recently emerged victorious in a contested Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District, which encompasses St. Louis and parts of St. Louis County. Both Lacy Clay and his father Bill Clay have represented the 1st District since 1969, and in the process have cultivated one of the state’s most important political organizations.

Bruce Franks Jr. poses with a cape given to him by a supporter.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Bruce Franks looked a political machine straight in the eye. He didn’t back down. He didn’t give up. And last Friday, he won.

Big.

Franks’ landslide victory over state Rep. Penny Hubbard could resonate far beyond last Friday’s unusual special election. In beating Hubbard, a three-term representative, by more than 50 percentage points, Franks sent a thunderbolt of sorts through the St. Louis political community.

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann welcome Bruce Franks to show. The St. Louis Democrat won a landslide victory last week in a special primary election over state Rep. Penny Hubbard. He will have a Republican opponent, Eric Shelquist,  in November.

Bruce Franks Jr. speaks to his supporters after finding out he won the Sept. 16 special election for Missouri's 78th District House seat.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:45 p.m. with comments from Franks. -- The second time is the charm for Bruce Franks.

Franks, an activist and small business owner, defeated Penny Hubbard Friday night in a court-ordered re-do Democratic primary in the 78th House District.

78th District Democratic candidate Bruce Franks goes door-to-door earlier this week in support of his bid against state Rep. Penny Hubbard.
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Inside a cavernous office space on Cherokee Street in south St. Louis, Bruce Franks’ die-hard supporters are prepping to go door-to-door for a candidate that’s captured the attention of St. Louis’ political community.

These volunteers are getting pointers on how to hand out door-hangers and convince 78th District residents that Franks is the one to represent them in the Missouri House over incumbent state Rep. Penny Hubbard.

On the surface, the stakes seem low: The winner, assuming they can defeat Republican Erik Shelquist in November, gets a seat in a Missouri House that Republicans dominate.

Bruce Franks talks with Jane Dueker, the attorney for his opponent Penny Hubbard, after oral arguments on Sept. 12, 2016.
Pool photo by Robert Cohen | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Updated 4:00 p.m. Sept. 13 with comments from Jane Dueker. — ​The  re-vote in the 78th House District is on.

The Missouri Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a lower-court ruling  that the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners improperly accepted at least 142 absentee ballots, putting the results of the Aug. 2 primary between incumbent Penny Hubbard and challenger Bruce Franks in doubt. Hubbard's attorney, Jane Dueker, said that ruling will not be appealed.

Attorneys for Bruce Franks, Penny Hubbard, and employees with the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners examine absentee ballot envelopes during a court hearing on Sept. 1, 2016.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments Monday afternoon on whether voters in the 78th House District in St. Louis will get a chance to vote again.

Right now, the do-over Democratic primary is scheduled for Friday. It is one of the fastest turn-arounds the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners has ever faced.

Most of the briefs for the case have already been filed, so we've got a sense of what lawyers for incumbent Penny Hubbard and challenger Bruce Franks will say to the appeals court panel.

Incumbent State Rep. Penny Hubbard is appealing a judge's order for a special election to be held next week. The judge ruled in favor of Bruce Franks, Hubbard's opponent, who filed a lawsuit against the St. Louis election board after the August primary.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For state Rep. Penny Hubbard, the disputed 78th District House race is unlike anything she’s experienced in politics.

The three-term Democratic lawmaker has faced challenging elections — and criticism for how she voted in the Missouri General Assembly. But the scrutiny has increased since St. Louis Democrat narrowly won her primary bid against Bruce Franks. That includes a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article that brought up questions about whether her campaign misused the absentee ballot process.

St. Louis Democratic Elections director Mary Wheeler-Jones shows her phone to Board of Election Commissioners chairman Erv Switzer. The Board had a special meeting on Wednesday go over logistical details for a special election in the 78th House District.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri secretary of state’s office is urging St. Louis’ prosecuting attorney to keep investigating absentee ballots from a state House primary.

Democrat Jason Kander, who is also running for U.S. Senate, released his brief report on the 78th House District on Wednesday.

Attorneys Erwin Switzer (back left) and Al Johnson (back right) listen to Gov. Jay Nixon on Sept. 6 as he introduces them as the chair and secretary of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners.
Bill Greenblat | UPI

Gov. Jay Nixon has cleaned house at the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners, four days after a judge found its employees responsible for absentee ballot problems that led him to schedule a new election  in the 78th House District.

Nixon replaced Democratic chairwoman Joan Burger, a retired judge, with Democrat Erwin Switzer, an attorney and a former member of the now-defunct St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners. Republican Al Johnson, also an attorney, replaces the Republican secretary Andrew Schwartz, who owns an adhesives company. 

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

It didn't take a particularly long time before the legal showdown between Bruce Franks and Penny Hubbard became a rationale for a photo identification requirement. The disputed 78th District House race became part of the discourse to override a gubernatorial veto of photo ID legislation -- especially after the publication of a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article detailing potential absentee ballot irregularities.

Bruce Franks in court on Sept. 1, 2016.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:45 p.m. with comment from Dave Roland. - A St. Louis judge has ordered a re-do in a state House race marred by allegations of problems with absentee ballots.

Judge Rex Burlison set the new Democratic primary in the 78th House District for Sept. 16, the earliest date allowed by state law. The 78th covers a swath of eastern St. Louis, from just north of downtown to near the Anheuser-Busch brewery.

Doug Moore, a reporter with the st. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The contested 78th House District race between Rep. Penny Hubbard and Bruce Franks came back into the spotlight this week as the first days of testimony about irregularities in the absentee ballots took place in front of Judge Rex Burlison in a downtown St. Louis courtroom.

Judge Rex Burlison (center) listens to attorneys on the first day of a trial to determine if there will be a new election in the 78th House District.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

On Aug. 5, 2016, incumbent state Rep. Penny Hubbard, D-78th District, beat challenger Bruce Franks by 90 votes. Her entire margin of victory came from absentee ballots.

Franks and his attorney, Dave Roland, sued in an an effort to force a new election, arguing that irregularities in the absentee ballots made the results invalid.

Bruce Franks talks to Mary Wheeler-Jones, the Democratic director of elections for St. Louis, on August 17, 2016.
File photo by Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The prolonged 78th House District primary between state Rep. Penny Hubbard and Bruce Franks may prove that one state representative race can shake up the Missouri political system.

But there’s disagreement if that "system shaking" is a positive or negative development for Missouri politics.

Bruce Franks, center, walks with supporters to the St. Louis  courthouse to file an official challenge to his state House primary contest on August 17.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

A candidate who lost the Democratic primary for a Missouri House seat in north St. Louis has officially asked for a re-do.

The incumbent in the 78th District, Penny Hubbard, beat Bruce Franks on Aug. 2 by about 90 votes — a margin of victory that came solely from absentee ballots. Franks won among those who voted in-person on election day.

John Brunner tilts his head back as Eric Greitens speaks at St. Louis Public Radio's GOP gubernatorial candidate debate.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA – You could say that Missouri’s 2016 primary cycle was a bit unwieldy.

This election has everything: An unpredictable and incredibly expensive governor’s race, statewide contests that turned thermonuclear nasty, and high-stakes legislative contests. For St. Louis voters, there’s a critical four-way race for circuit attorney and even a scramble for sheriff.

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