Maria Chappelle-Nadal

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.


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.

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.

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, right, and candidate Bill Haas, center, speak as state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal answers a question.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In their only forum before Tuesday’s primary, Missouri’s major-party candidates for the 1st congressional district seat were civil and concise. Both attributes were required by the area’s League of Women Voters, which conducted the forum at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis.

The star participant was U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City, who has held the seat for 16 years.  He succeeded his father, Bill Clay Sr., who served for 32 years. That long tenure was a key topic for one of Lacy Clay’s Democratic rivals, state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City.  She told the audience, “You must ask yourself a question: Is 48 years too long for one family?”

State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, and Congressman Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay and state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal don’t have a lot of commonalities. But they’re both good at winning elections.

Inspired and fueled by their successful mentors, Clay and Chappelle-Nadal have withstood strong challenges to survive and advance through Missouri politics. Now, the two University City Democrats are putting their unblemished electoral records on the line in a battle to represent the 1st Congressional District.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal walks out of the Senate chamber as the Senate adjourns for the session earlier this year in Jefferson City.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Voters in parts of St. Louis County won't get a chance to vote anytime soon on a sales tax increase for St. Louis County Police Department. And St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is not happy with a Democratic state senator for prompting that outcome.

For the past couple of legislative sessions, Stenger has wanted Missouri lawmakers to authorize a vote for a sales tax increase in unincorporated St. Louis County. The proceeds would go to the St. Louis County Police Department, and could be used for a number of initiatives, including making sure each patrol car contains two police officers.

Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis, campaigned last year as a proponent of right to work -- even though labor unions have gained a bit of a foothold in St. Charles County.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

A Senate-sponsored constitutional amendment that would shield businesses in the wedding industry from legal repercussions if they denied their services to same-sex couples is headed to the House. The amendment passed 23-7.

Maria Chappelle-Nadal Sen. D. U City
Provided by Chappelle-Nadal's office

The Missouri Democratic Party’s voter list is once again a target of candidates who currently can’t get access to the sought-after files – this time because they’re challenging Democratic incumbents.

State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, is furious that so far she is blocked from the file – known as VAN – for the 1st Congressional District. She is challenging U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-University City, in the August Democratic primary. And although Clay and his rival are African-American, Chappelle-Nadal contends that race may be an issue in the voter-file fight.

Rep. Lacy Clay
St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 12:15 p.m., Feb. 1 with additional numbers - U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-University City, holds a huge financial lead over his Democratic challenger in next summer’s primary, state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal.

According to campaign finance reports filed this weekend, Clay has $423,250 in the bank. That compares to $25,186 for Chappelle-Nadal. 

Ferguson resident Emily Davis waits to speak at a 2015 Ferguson City Council meeting. Davis is part of the Ferguson Collaborative, a group that's been following the consent decree process closely.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

For Emily Davis, the future of Ferguson will come down to attitude.

Davis is part of the Ferguson Collaborative, a group of people who live, work and pray in the beleaguered St. Louis County municipality. Davis has been closely watching Ferguson and the debate over a consent decree with the Department of Justice, which came into public view on Wednesday after a 131-page document was released to the public. 

Contrary to social media speculation, Gov. Jay Nixon didn’t use his final State of the State speech to endorse Bernie Sanders, do a backflip or find the Afikoman.

Compared to those death-defying feats (especially seeking out the hard-to-find Afikoman), the Democratic governor’s address was fairly tame. He stuck to themes embedded within his other seven State of the State addresses, such as a desire to expand Medicaid, freeze college tuition and boost K-12 education spending.

File photo

After two successes in the General Assembly and two vetoes by Gov. Jay Nixon, Missouri lawmakers will consider once more what changes can be made to the state’s student transfer law.

Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, who has been active on the issue as head of the the Senate Education Committee, has pre-filed one of three bills dealing with the transfers. St. Louis area Democrats – Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City and Sen. Scott Sifton of Affton – have filed the others.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger delivers his inaugural address on Jan. 1, 2015. Stenger is coming into office with an ambitious agenda to change St. Louis County government -- and the legislative alliances to help him out.
File photo by Bill Greenblatt | UPI

After previously working to reach some sort of concord with St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s office, the St. Louis County Municipal League has come out against a proposal that would set standards for municipal police agencies.

Maria Chappelle-Nadal Sen. D. U City
Provided by Chappelle-Nadal's office

Updated 10 p.m., Oct. 21 - Missouri state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal is following up on her criticisms of U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay by taking the first step to challenge him next year.

Chappelle-Nadal recently filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to set up her congressional campaign committee. But candidate-filing in Missouri won’t begin until late February.

Missouri Senate

Updated at 4:38 p.m. on Sept. 17 with audio - On Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, announced her resignation as a member of the University City School Board.

Bridgeton Landfill
Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

On Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” host Don Marsh brought together several different parties to talk about ongoing community concerns over radioactive contamination at the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills. He was joined by: 

  • Véronique LaCapra - St. Louis Public Radio’s science reporter. She has reported extensively on the situation at both landfills

  • Dawn Chapman - Citizen activist

  • Mike Petersen – Chief of Public Affairs, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon accepts a copy of the Ferguson Commission's recomendations from co-chairs Rich McClure (L) and Rev. Starsky Wilson during a press conference in Florissant.
Bill Greenblatt I UPI

In the turbulent days before a grand jury decided not to indict a former Ferguson police officer that shot and killed Michael Brown, Gov. Jay Nixon was asked why he needed a commission to figure out what ails the St. Louis region. His answer then was personal. His reaction to the actual report issued by the Ferguson Commission is for the entire state.

Lawmakers in Texas approved a bill providing money and setting guidelines for police body cameras.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

At first blush, Texas state Sen. Royce West didn’t seem to have the most hospitable environment to pass legislation providing body camera grants to local law enforcement agencies.

After all, the Texas legislature isn’t brimming with Democrats like West these days. And in contrast to Missouri’s divided government, GOP officials occupy every single statewide office throughout the Lone Star State.

Northwoods Mayor Everett Thomas says a recently-passed bill curtailing municipal courts could prompt his city to cut staff or services.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Jaquin Holmes has had his share of frustration with the way municipal courts in St. Louis County operate. During a meeting of the Ferguson Commission last year, the St. Louis resident talked about being treated harshly for what deemed to be minor traffic offenses.

Holmes said he’s encountered a broken system. And he wanted the Missouri General Assembly to step up.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

With three weeks left in the 2015 legislative session, Missouri lawmakers have passed all 13 bills that make up the state's $26 billion spending plan for Fiscal 2016, which begins July 1.

Michel Martin led a two-hour discussion March 23, 2015, about changes in the St. Louis region seven months after Michael Brown's death. This was the second Ferguson and Beyond forum that Martin has moderated, both at Wellspring Church in Ferguson.
Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

Since Michael Brown was shot and killed last year, people within the St. Louis region have been immersed in social and public policy introspection.

House Speaker John Diehl presides over the Missouri House last week. Diehl, R-Town and Country, has rejected the idea of pursuing a "Ferguson agenda," but adds the House will take up bills changing municipal courts.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

At first glance, state Sen. Bob Dixon wouldn’t be an obvious choice to spearhead legislation responding to the unrest in and around Ferguson.

Michel Martin at microphone
August Jennewein / University of Missouri–St. Louis / St. Louis Public Radio

Seven months after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson drew national attention to racial disparities, St. Louis Public Radio is hosting a second community forum, Ferguson and Beyond: Continuing the Community Conversation.

State Rep. Bob Burns' legislation would make it easier to hold disincorporation elections in St. Louis County.
Tim Bommel, House Communications

Legislation is advancing through the Missouri General Assembly to make it easier to dissolve St. Louis County’s municipalities.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal
Missouri Senate

Body cameras could be required for all Missouri law enforcement officers under a newly proposed Senate bill.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal
Missouri Senate

As the Missouri General Assembly goes back into session, state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, wants to make one point clear:

When it comes to Ferguson, she cannot and will not be ignored.

Her 14th District includes the city of Ferguson, which has been in the international spotlight since the Aug. 9 police shooting that killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.  Protests, some accompanied by looting and arson, were held for months in the community and around the region.

Missouri State Capitol Building
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Just after the sun set on Nov. 24 — the day that then-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s fate would be disclosed to the world — Missouri's Gov. Jay Nixon faced a throng of reporters at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. 

Appearing before cameras that would simulcast his words across the globe, the Democratic governor talked  at length about how law enforcement officials were ready to respond to the grand jury’s decision. 

File photo

Renewed efforts to change Missouri’s law on school transfers look pretty much the same as the bill vetoed earlier this year by Gov. Jay Nixon, but sponsors of the newly filed legislation say events in Ferguson have changed the atmosphere for the upcoming debate.

Gov. Jay Nixon is calling a special session to pay for the Missouri National Guard and Missouri Highway Patrol's operations in Ferguson and the St. Louis region.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Gov. Jay Nixon plans to call a special session of the Missouri General Assembly to pay for the Missouri National Guard and Missouri Highway Patrol’s operations in Ferguson and the St. Louis region. 

It’s a move that comes amid immense disapproval of how the governor handled the aftermath of a grand jury’s decision to not indict Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing Michael Brown.

Rep. Lacy Clay
St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay and state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, both University City Democrats, were on opposing sides during St. Louis County’s battle for county executive.

But you might not guess it from their post-election assessments.

Both are proclaiming victory.

While Clay’s candidate — fellow Democrat Steve Stenger — won on Nov. 4, Chappelle-Nadal is celebrating victory as well, because the Republican she endorsed,  Rick Stream, came close.

“It was a cool win, it was beautiful,’’ said Chappelle-Nadal, who appeared in a TV ad for Stream.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

This week, the Politically Speaking crew welcomes Gregg Keller, a locally based Republican consultant who now runs his own firm, Atlas Strategy Group.

Keller represents a number of corporate and political clients, including state Auditor Tom Schweich, who’s expected to run for governor in 2016.

A graduate of Clayton High School, Keller got his political start after college (Florida State). He began as a volunteer, and later as a staffer, for Jim Talent when he ran in 2002 for the U.S. Senate (defeating Democratic incumbent Jean Carnahan).