Jeff Roorda

Breaking new ground is one of the trademarks of the Politically Speaking podcast, and this year was no exception. 

After three years of podcasts, Politically Speaking changed its format and put the spotlight on guests. In all, 48 episodes featured federal, state and local officials from across Missouri and Illinois – as well as a few folks who aren’t in office.

St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger talks to St. Louis Public Radio reporters Nov. 5, 2014, during a recording of the 'Politically Speaking' podcast.
Chris McDaniel / St. Louis Public Radio

Wednesday on “St. Louis on the Air,” we gathered our political reporters to recap Tuesday’s election. The consensus: Republicans ruled the night.

“It was a Republican bloodbath, nationally and regionally,” said Jo Mannies, St. Louis Public Radio political reporter. “But it also shows that St. Louis County is definitely Democratic turf because the only two Democratic candidates — big names — who remained standing were Steve Stenger and Jill Schupp.”

Rebecca Smith, St. Louis Public Radio

The 2014 mid-term election is over, but its impact on local and state politics could be long lasting.

That’s because Republicans  -- who were already in firm control of the Missouri General Assembly – expanded their numbers in the House and Senate in part because they were able to crack the Democrats'  once-sturdy strongholds in Jefferson County, southeast Missouri and northeast Missouri. In St. Louis County, Republicans also came close to electing a county executive for the first time since 1990 when Democrat Buzz Westfall ended 28 years of GOP control over the office.

St. Louis Public Radio aired the first public debate between two candidates for St. Louis County executive, Democrat Steve Stenger, left and Republican Rick Stream (right).
Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s somewhat instinctual for Missouri political reporters to describe every election as decisive, critical or groundbreaking. And to be fair, it’s not an unnatural impulse – since every Show Me State election year for the past couple of decades has featured a competitive statewide, U.S. Senate or presidential contest.

This year, though, state Auditor Tom Schweich likely won’t lose to his Libertarian or Constitution Party opponents, and the Missouri House and Senate will remain firmly in Republican hands. And there's no U.S. Senate contest.

It's one of the few hotly contested races on the ballot the year: the 22nd District state Senate race in Jefferson County.

Both Republican Paul Wieland and Democrat Jeff Roorda joined us on the podcast a couple months ago, so we took the time afterward to ask them a few questions on video. You can see their answers by clicking on the questions below.

What's the biggest issue facing Jefferson County? What would you do to fix it?

What is the difference between you and your opponent?

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis area is home to Missouri’s arguably most competitive – and expensive – state Senate contests on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Both state parties, and their allies, have been pouring money into the battles for the 22nd District and 24th District seats. The 22nd District is in Jefferson County, while the 24th stretches across a large area of central and west St. Louis County.

The 24th District pits state Rep. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, versus Republican attorney Jay Ashcroft.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

The Politically Speaking crew continues its look at the so-called “Battle for JeffCo,” the expensive campaign for the 22nd District state Senate seat that's among the region's most competitive contests this fall.

After hosting Republican state Rep. Paul Wieland last week, St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum now welcome his opponent – state Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart – to the podcast.

The November winner of the 22nd District contest will represent a big chunk of Jefferson County for the next four years.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s mid-term election season is in full swing. And that means it’s time to interview the candidates in some of the state’s most competitive electoral contests. 

State Rep. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel, Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies to discuss his bid for the 22nd District state Senate seat. Wieland is running against state Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, for the open Jefferson County-based seat.

(Roorda is slated to appear on next week’s episode of Politically Speaking.)

Mo. House Communications

Amid the continued controversy within Democratic ranks over St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch,  one official remains solidly in his corner and not afraid to say so:

State Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart.

“Bob McCulloch is the definition of integrity and he was elected overwhelmingly,’’ said Roorda, who’s now locked in arguably the region’s most competitive state Senate contest this fall.

Roorda is competing against fellow Rep. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, for the Senate post in Jefferson County vacated by Democrat Ryan McKenna because of term limits.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Federal prosecutors say they have dismantled a criminal ring that allegedly distributed at least $18 million worth of synthetic drugs across the country over the last three years. 

Six federal and ten local agencies participated in the investigation, which special agent James P. Shrouba,  the head of the St. Louis office of the Drug Enforcement Agency, said took down an entire organization from the producers to the retailers. Twenty-eight people from Illinois, Arizona, Missouri and Indiana were either arrested or surrendered to authorities.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

For all intents and purposes, the 2014 election season looks to be a great, big bust.

Nobody should be surprised, as 2014 was always a way station to 2016. But hardly anybody expected that the only statewide race on the ballot would feature state Auditor Tom Schweich facing off against a Libertarian or Constitution Party candidate -- but not even a token Democrat. And some previously heated state Senate contests completely fizzled out.

Updated 3:23 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17

State Sen. John Lamping, R-Frontenac, has yet to say if he’s running for re-election this fall, in what could be the region’s top legislative contest.

But his campaign money could be speaking for him. He has very little.

Meanwhile, his Democratic challenger — state Rep. Jill Schupp of Creve — has raised a lot.

The latest campaign-finance reports for the two, filed this week, show that Schupp raised more than $108,000 during the past three months. She now has $261,202 in the bank.

It make take longer than expected to fill Ryan McKenna's void in the Missouri Senate.

When the Jefferson County Democrat resigned in December to become director of the state labor department, he left open the possibility that his Senate seat may remain vacant throughout 2014. If that occurs, the Missouri Senate would not be at full membership for an entire calendar year.

Mo. House Communications

Today is Black Friday, the biggest retail day of the year.  But many large retailers were open yesterday, on Thanksgiving.

One Missouri lawmaker wants to limit that.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Missouri lawmakers have sent a nearly $25 billion budget to Governor Jay Nixon (D).

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The Missouri House has formally rejected the Senate version of the state budget, setting the stage for final negotiations over the state’s spending plan for next year.

knittymarie / Flickr

State and local-level school officials would be required to develop guidelines for teaching evolution under legislation making its way through the Missouri House.

If passed, school districts would have to, “encourage students to explore scientific questions” regarding the “strengths and weaknesses” of both biological and chemical evolution.  The sponsor, State Representative Andrew Koenig (R, Winchester), says House Bill 179 stresses academic freedom.

“It does not mandate curriculum to the teacher," Koenig said.  "It’s really up to the school district, and if evolution is gonna be taught, it just allows them to teach the scientific strengths and weaknesses.”

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Legislation to require special elections in Missouri to fill vacancies in statewide offices has cleared another hurdle.

The bill today easily passed the House Rules Committee and is expected to be debated on the floor of the House next week.  If passed, House Bill 110 would only allow the governor to appoint a temporary placeholder if a statewide office is vacated, and that person would be ineligible to run in the special election to fill the vacancy.  State Representative Jeff Roorda (D, Barnhart) sits on the Rules Committee and cast one of the few “no” votes.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Today is the first full day that Missouri lawmakers in both chambers can prefile bills for next year’s regular session.

One bill in particular comes in the wake of the annual holiday shopping surge that surrounds the Thanksgiving holiday weekend:  HB 37 would make it illegal for retail stores to open for business on Thanksgiving Day.  The proposal is sponsored by State Representative-Elect Jeff Roorda (D, Barnhart).  He says it’s in response to the ongoing push by retailers to open for business on nationally-recognized holidays.

St. Louis Public Radio

Since last fall, the St. Louis Police Officers Association has supported a ballot initiative to bring local control of the department back to the city.

But this week the union’s president publicly urged members to vote “no” on Prop A.

Dave Bonenberger said in his "Message from the President" column that local control would lead to political influence in the department and loss of police pensions.