Politics & Issues

Political news

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

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:

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.

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

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.)

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.

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.

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 1789, the people of the United States of America proclaimed:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

With that, we the people formed the federal government to promote the general welfare of the people.

On Aug. 3, all eyes in the nation will turn toward Missouri, as voters in the Show-Me State become the first anywhere to cast a ballot concerning the federal health-care plan foisted upon them. A "yes" vote on Proposition C -- the Health Care Freedom Act -- will tell the nation that Missourians have looked at this expensive, ill-conceived and unhealthy measure and rejected it.

Based on their ads and major campaign events, one might think that Republicans Tom Schweich and Allen Icet were running for a post in Washington instead of state auditor in Jefferson City.

The two are vying on Aug. 3 for the GOP nomination for state auditor, and the right to challenge Democratic incumbent Susan Montee in November. But for the moment, she's not the focus of either potential rival.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon spent today in Afghanistan, where he says he was "inspired" and "incredibly impressed by the professionalism" he saw in the troops, especially Missouri's National Guard.

"It's a very, very real war zone that we're in," Nixon said during a telephone conference call with Missouri reporters, conducted Friday night, Afghanistan time.

One of the region's most significant contests on the Aug. 3 ballot is also, according to some political insiders, one of the most ignored.

Voters in Jefferson County will take the first step toward electing their first-ever county executive and a seven-member County Council. After the November elections, the county will formally do away with its old form of county-commission government and follow through with the dictates of the new charter the county voters approved in 2008.

Rock and roll legend Chuck Berry should be duck-walking across Kiener Plaza later this month, while representatives of the Democratic National Committee are scouting around town to see if St. Louis is good enough to host a presidential convention in 2012,

Local Democratic officials say that Berry and "a mystery guest'' will headline a free concert in the plaza on July 29, beginning at 8:30 p.m.

Lawyer Bill Corrigan, a Republican candidate for St. Louis County executive, may be trying avoid an "Al Hanson'' moment.

Beginning today, Corrigan is launching a $90,000-plus TV ad campaign for the Aug. 3 primary.

Political operatives report that Corrigan -- who is hoping to oust St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley in November -- has purchased significant blocks of ad time on area cable outlets and broadcast stations.

Corrigan's campaign declined comment Thursday but issued a statement this morning confirming the basics:

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, the best-known Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, has just proposed three general-election debates for after the Aug. 3 primary.

The catch is that Carnahan is calling for the debates to feature the nominees from not just the two major parties but also the Constitution and Libertarian parties, which have automatic ballot access in Missouri. (Any other parties have to collect a certain number of signatures to get their candidates on the November ballot in the state.)

Less than two weeks before the Aug. 3 primary, it's time for the candidates to tout last-minute endorsements from various big-name politicians in hopes of swaying any still-undecided voters or, in the case of uncontested races, heighten ones profile for the fall.  

Today, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., announced he has chosen sides in the combative Democratic primary in the 24th state Senate district, and is endorsing former state Rep. Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur.

The off-year elections are looming and, fairly or not, they figure to be a referendum on the Obama administration. If the polls are even close to accurate, it looks as though the "Yes, We Can!" crowd could be in for a "That's What You Think" awakening.

A soldier shows Gov. Nixon a MRAP vehicle (Mine Resistant Ambush Protection).
Provided by the governor's office

For the second July in a row, almost to the day, Gov. Jay Nixon is in Iraq meeting with Missouri troops.

Nixon's just recently announced that the governor left Jefferson City on Monday and, after a short stop in Washington, headed overseas with four other governors as part of a Pentagon-organized trip. Last year's tour also included a visit to Afghanistan.

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial commemorates the settlement of the west and distills that epic story into a single iconic symbol -- the Gateway Arch. Conceived in 1933, the Memorial began with a question: What should the city do about 40 blocks of historic riverfront buildings that were mostly vacant and deteriorating? The answer was obvious: commemorate all the history that happened in those buildings, history that fundamentally shaped our nation in the 19th century.

Pages