Politics & Issues

Political news

At the "Women for Roy Blunt" event
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Beacon | 2010

Former Missouri House Speaker/U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway, who's now a lawyer working with the Ashcroft Group, helped launch Monday a "Women for Roy Blunt'' coalition aimed at promoting the U.S. Senate bid of the southwest Missouri congressman.

Hanaway will cohost the coalition, along with Renee Hulshof, a radio-show host in Columbia, Mo., and the wife of former U.S. Rep. (and unsuccessful 2008 gubernatorial nominee) Kenny Hulshof.

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Action Fund, an environmental advocacy group, is launching a new statewide ad campaign in Missouri that accuses U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, of being too close to major oil companies.

A spokeswoman said the ad buy is "in the six figures" for a week's worth of spots on cable and broadcast stations in St. Louis and Kansas City.

Peter Kinder primary election night 2010
Rachel Heidenry | 2010 | St. Louis Beacon

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder was fitting in national TV and newspaper interviews today around his previously scheduled afternoon flight to San Diego to take part in a meeting of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.

For all the flaps over some of his ill-conceived Tweets in recent weeks, it appears that Kinder was arguably the biggest victor in Tuesday's primary -- Republican or Democrat -- who was not on the ballot.

State Sen. Chuck Purgason's smaller-than-expected vote tally in Tuesday's Republican U.S. Senate primary, coupled with the defeat of state Rep. Allen Icet in the GOP contest for auditor, has prompted some post-primary talk about the true clout of Missouri's Tea Party movement.

"The Tea Party movement did not show a lot of strength,'' said Dave Robertson, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "The Republican 'establishment' was able to withstand the assault from the Tea Party wing."

Peter Kinder primary election night 2010
Rachel Heidenry | 2010 | St. Louis Beacon

Proposition C won handily Tuesday, as Missouri voters went to the polls for the state's primary that sets the table for this fall's elections.

The biggest surprise was Republican state auditor candidate Tom Schweich's unexpectedly strong victory over rival Allen Icet, after polls had shown them neck and neck.

Proposition C seeks to exempt Missouri from some of the new federal health-care mandates, although both sides agree a legal battle is expected.

Given that the St. Louis area has the highest number of bicycle-related accidents in Missouri and that St. Charles County is considering banning bicycles on certain highways, how can St. Louis be touted as a great destination for cyclists?

"Cyclists from other cities come here and can't believe how much nicer motorists are than those in other cities," said Patty Vinyard, executive director of the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation .

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan didn't mention it yesterday during her Senate primary victory speech, but the Missouri Republican Party -- and her mother -- made note of it today.

Today is Robin Carnahan's 49th birthday. It's also the 49th birthday of the nation's 44th and current president, fellow Democrat Barack Obama.

The Missouri GOP and former Sen. Jean Carnahan, D-Mo. -- who both make note of the U.S. Senate race -- obviously have different takes on Robin Carnahan's shared big day.

The state Republican Party said in its release, in part:

One second after Tuesday's polls closed, and before the votes were counted, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley launched his first full-throttle campaign attack against Republican Bill Corrigan.

It was not as dramatic as Confederate forces firing on the Union troops at Fort Sumter in April 1861, but Missouri's passage of Proposition C is certainly a notable skirmish in the 2010 reappearance of the states' right struggle. Channeling their inner John Calhouns, State Sens. Jane Cunningham and Jim Lembke have emerged as the new preachers of the nullification doctrine.

In a political showdown that Republicans favored and Democrats wanted to avoid, Missouri voters gave strong approval to Proposition C, the state referendum that calls for Missouri to opt out of the federal health care reform law that was passed four months ago. More than 72 percent of Missouri voters supported the measure.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan's office just announced that only two initiative petitions have been certified for the Nov. 2 ballot. And the proposal to change the way Missouri selects its judges is not one of them.

Today was the deadline for announcing certification.

Carnahan's staff reported that the judicial measure, which would have called for the election of all Missouri judges, only turned in enough valid signatures in one of the six required congressional districts.

By the numbers

Even before the polls close today, state Auditor Susan Montee -- a Democrat with no serious primary opposition -- will be on the streets with St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom and Mayor Francis Slay to visit "National Night Out" events around the city to highlight anti-crime and anti-drug efforts. 

"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.

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 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?

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.

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.

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.

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.