Politics & Issues

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"It's broken."

Despite differing viewpoints, nearly everyone the Beacon spoke with about our immigration system had that same answer. Their thoughts on reform differ in many ways, but agreements did crop up and often included the need to simplify the bureaucracy, to control our borders better and to impose some penalties on people who came here illegally or who are now here undocumented, without necessarily sending them home.

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.

Former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Tom Dittmeier, who created lots of headlines during the 1980s, is back -- as executive assistant to the latest in the job, U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan.

Callahan, appointed to the post by President Barack Obama, announced that Dittmeier's appointment as his top aide takes effect immediately.

"I am pleased to have Tom in this position," Callahan said. "His experience and dedication speak for itself and I am confident his addition to our administrative team will help make a great office even greater."

"It's broken."

Despite differing viewpoints, nearly everyone the Beacon spoke with about our immigration system had that same answer. Their thoughts on reform differ in many ways, but agreements did crop up and often included the need to simplify the bureaucracy, to control our borders better and to impose some penalties on people who came here illegally or who are now here undocumented, without necessarily sending them home.

Interviews were edited for clarity and length.

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, the best-known Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, made clear Sunday that she -- like her best-known GOP rival, Roy Blunt -- is focusing solely on the November election.

Not Tuesday's primary.

Carnahan joined more than 100 supporters Sunday afternoon at the grand opening of the St. Peters campaign office for the state Democratic Party and its candidates.

Tens of thousands of Illinoisans in cities and hamlets throughout the state relish the intellectual stimulation, companionship and shared humanity of book clubs. Why not voter clubs?

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.

In American politics, as in society at large, the issue of race is often likened to the proverbial 800-pound gorilla lurking in the corner. That metaphor is misleading. Race is better understood as the irritable 8,000-pound bull snorting in the middle of the living room that everybody tiptoes around, hoping not to provoke the beast.

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.

The federal health-reform train began rolling across America this summer, dropping off benefits at every stop along the way, offering coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, giving added protection to young people about to be removed from their parents' health plans, and setting up temporary high-risk pools for some unable to buy affordable insurance.

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.

Proposition C, which is on Missouri's Aug. 3 primary ballot, asks voters whether Missouri should be able to opt out of federal health-care reform, specifically the mandate for individuals to buy health insurance. The Beacon, through our Public Insight Network, asked readers how they are likely to vote on this measure. Here are excerpts from some of their responses. (Read the Beacon's companion article: With Prop C, Missouri voters will be first in nation to weigh in on health-care reform.)

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.

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.

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