Strictly Politics

Tom Dempsey R. Mo Senator 02182014
Official photo

Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, says he has yet to take a position on the “right-to-work’’ bill that is headed to his chamber after passing the House last week.

“I’m still looking at it,’’ Dempsey said in an interview.

He also remains skeptical that the measure — which would restrict union rights in the workplace — has enough Senate votes to override what he sees as “a certain veto’’ by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat with close labor ties.

Wikipedia

Missouri Republican activists will signal their first 2016 presidential preferences by participating  in a straw poll this weekend during the party’s annual Lincoln Days festivities.

This year, the event has been renamed “Reagan-Lincoln Days’’ in honor of Ronald Reagan, who was president in the 1980s.

The unscientific straw poll is among the activities aimed at energizing the hundreds of party faithful expected to attend the three-day event in Kansas City.

Ray Howze / St. Louis Public Radio

The Republican gubernatorial primary is more than a year-and-a-half away on Aug. 2, 2016, but candidates are already busy staking out their positions and priorities.

(via Flickr/lowjumpingfrog)

Over the past 10 years since it faced two federal lawsuits, the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners has quietly cut 75,000 people off of its voter rolls.

That represents more than a quarter of the 281, 316 voters on the city's rolls in 2004. St. Louis' voter list now totals 206,349, according to state election records.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Just hours before the Senate confirmed Ashton Carter as defense secretary on a vote of 93 to 5, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., issued a brief statement saying he would oppose both Carter’s and attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch’s confirmation.

“After careful review, I’ve decided to vote against President Obama’s nominees for both the departments of defense and justice. Unfortunately, I believe both of these nominees will simply continue to uphold President Obama’s flawed agenda at these important agencies.”

House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town & Country
Tim Bommel, House Communications

On this special edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town and Country, joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies to talk about the passage of “right to work” legislation in the Missouri. 

The bill in question – sponsored by Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield – would bar unions and employers from requiring all workers to join a union and pay union fees, if a majority votes to organize. It passed the Missouri House on Thursday with 92 "yes" votes, which falls short of the majority needed to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

(Updated 12:40 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12)

For the first time ever, the Missouri House has approved a right-to-work bill that curbs union rights.

But the House’s 92-66 vote Wednesday afternoon was far short of the number – 109 -- needed to withstand a likely veto by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat with close union ties.

Final House approval came Thursday morning. The  measure now moves to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future and a possible Democratic filibuster.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated 1 p.m., Wed., Feb. 11)

By a voice vote, the Missouri House gave first round-approval Wednesday to a bill to bar construction unions and employers from requiring all employees to join a union and pay dues if a majority votes to organize. The bill, HB 582, is sponsored by Rep. Courtney Curtis, D-Berkeley.

----- Our earlier story

Rep. Lacy Clay
St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s two members of the Congressional Black Caucus both say President Barack Obama encouraged members of the caucus to find Republican colleagues to help pass criminal justice system reforms sought by many in the group. 

State Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin
Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

On this week’s episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum welcome state Rep. Shamed Dogan to the podcast for the first time. 

  Dogan, R-Ballwin, is a Northwoods native who worked in Washington, D.C. after graduating from Yale University. Among other things, Dogan worked for former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Roy Temple
Official photo

As expected, leaders of the Missouri Democratic State Committee have re-elected Roy Temple as state party chairman, despite the party’s poor showing last fall.

Temple faced no major opposition during Saturday’s vote, held at the Truman Hotel in Jefferson City. He is close to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and state Attorney General Chris Koster, who had supported his initial ascension to the top party post in 2013.

St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green was re-elected as the state party’s vice chairman.

New numbers show Missouri's women who worked full-time earned about 78 percent of men's earnings in 2013.
(via Flickr/Tax Credits)

As Missouri legislators roam the state Capitol, they frequently run into familiar lobbyists. More and more, though, these lobbyists are working for groups financed by unfamiliar donors. In fact, their identity is secret.

Such groups are nonprofits officially known as 501C4s, a designation that refers to a provision of the IRS’ tax code. Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2010 known as “Citizens United,” these organizations can get involved in politics in favor or opposition of candidates, just like political action committees.

Washington University

Washington University, which has hosted several presidential debates, may once again be on the national political stage because of a challenge issued Tuesday night by three nationally prominent Republicans who also are gay-rights activists.

They included Meghan McCain, daughter of 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain, and Gregory T. Angelo, national executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans – the GOP’s LGBT arm.

Ed Martin 2012
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Beacon | file photo

Just weeks before a divisive Missouri GOP fight, state Republican Party chairman Ed Martin has announced he will not seek re-election. Instead he plans to take over as the new president of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, a longstanding conservative group.

But Martin’s announcement may not clear the path for John Hancock, a fellow St. Louisan and prominent political consultant, to take over as state party chairman.

Republican sources say that Eddy Justice, the party chairman in Dent County and of the 8th congressional district, is considering a bid for the top party post.

Schweich launches his campaign for governor on January 28, 2015
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich launched his campaign for governor by lashing out at the man who he says is a symbol of the “rampant corruption” in the state Capitol -- wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield.

Schweich said that Sinquefield, the state’s top political donor, has been engaging in “corrosive tactics’’ with “an army of mercenaries.’’  Their aim, he said, is to advance proposals – such as the elimination of Missouri’s income tax and replacing it with a huge sales tax -- that he says would help the wealthy but hurt small business and middle-class Missourians.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia
Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

This week’s edition of Politically Speaking uses the magical power of radio to speak with Sen. Kurt Schaefer from his office in Jefferson City. 

The Columbia Republican chairs the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, which makes him one of the most influential figures in the budget-crafting process. He’s also chairing a special committee looking into Gov. Jay Nixon’s performance during the unrest in Ferguson.

Rep. Keith English of Florissant left the Democratic Party on Tuesday and announced he will serve as an independent.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

State Rep. Keith English, D-Florissant, has left the Missouri Democratic Party and is becoming an independent. He says the decision stemmed from his personal beliefs, which “do not seem welcome among current party leadership."

But some of English’s colleagues say his defection has more to do with comments he made about Michael Brown’s shooting death.

English said in a press release that the Democrats are no longer the party “of Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy.” He says he’s “leaving the party because the party left me.”

Green Park Alderman Tony Pousosa hasn't been successful in last two races for county offices. But the GOP nominee for the 6th District county council seat may be a better position, thanks to the unpredictable dynamics of a special election.
Parth Shah, St. Louis Public Radio

By now, Tony Pousosa may be considered a grizzled veteran on the St. Louis County political scene.   

The Green Park alderman, a Republican, unsuccessfully ran for both the St. Louis County Council and St. Louis County executive. He was the underdog in both contests because his opponents had a lot more money and organizational clout.

File photo by Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

When President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address earlier this week, reaction was pretty predictable: Most Democrats liked the speech, while Republicans were generally less favorable. 

But in the flurry of emailed statements from politicians that flooded reporters’ in boxes, one stood out: Missouri Treasurer Clint Zweifel, a Democrat, criticized part of the president’s proposal to streamline higher education incentives.

St. Louis had a large contingent at the March for Life in D.C.
Jim Howard | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

The Missouri General Assembly may be taking a break from handling major anti-abortion legislation, but that’s not necessarily true in Washington – and that could have an impact on Missouri’s 2018 contest for the U.S. Senate.

The drama in the U.S. House centered on its decision to drop plans to vote Thursday on an abortion ban after 20 weeks, as thousands of abortion opponents participated in the annual March for Life to mark the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing most abortions.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon shakes hands with legislators as he exits the House of Represenatives after delivering the annual State of the State address at the state capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri on January 21, 2015.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

A former basketball player himself, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon used the sport Wednesday to illustrate ways that the state can advance racial healing as it seeks to get beyond the months of protests prompted by last summer’s police shooting in Ferguson.

In Wednesday’s State of the State address, the governor recounted how Highway Patrol officers assigned to keep order pooled some of their own money to pay for a basketball net and new basketball. That generosity, Nixon said, later led to a pickup basketball game.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum welcomed St. Louis County Councilman Sam Page to Politically Speaking. 

Gov. Jay Nixon speaks during last year's State of the State address. The governor's speech comes amid heightened scrutiny of his actions during the Ferguson unrest and unprecedented GOP majorities in the Missouri General Assembly.
Tim Bommel, House Communications

When Gov. Jay Nixon steps in front of the lectern for his seventh State of the State speech, he’ll be speaking arguably at the lowest point of his power over the Missouri General Assembly. 

Any bit of his agenda that arouses even a hint of controversy can be slapped away by the huge Republican majorities in the House and Senate. And even some Democrats are upset over the way he handled the unrest in Ferguson. He has, in essence, entered the twilight of his governorship.

(via Flickr/lowjumpingfrog)

(Updated 9:08 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20)

Rita Days, St. Louis County’s Democratic director of elections, says she’s been removed from office at the behest of new County Executive Steve Stenger.

The county’s Board of Election Commissioners voted Tuesday to remove Days as of Friday. She says she is to be replaced by Eric Fey, now the executive assistant to County Councilman Pat Dolan, D-Richmond Heights.

Although she remains on the payroll a few more days, Days says her computer access already has been cut off.

Rex Sinquefield
From Sinquefield website

During 2014, wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield cemented his place as Missouri’s top political donor — by far — by distributing close to $10 million to candidates and political groups.

File photo

The five-year legal saga of Mamtek, a mid-Missouri failed development project that caused political headaches for Gov. Jay Nixon, is apparently over.

A civil trial slated to get under way this week came to an end Wednesday morning during jury selection when the two sides reached a confidential settlement.

Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

 Tom Schweich has begun his second term as Missouri auditor.

Flanked by members of his family, Schweich was sworn in Monday by Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Russell during a small ceremony inside the state auditor's office. He told a small group of family, friends, and supporters that his office would continue to root out corruption and fraud over the next four years.

"We've got some very important state audits" coming up, Schweich said.  "We're going to continue to do what we started four years ago, (and) we're going t0 take it up a notch every day."

DON"T USE TOO SMALL Claire McCaskill
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has ended months of speculation by declaring that she’s definitely not running for governor in 2016 and is endorsing Missouri Attorney Chris Koster instead.

“I have an amazing job. I am challenged every day,” McCaskill said in an interview Monday with host Steve Kraske on KCUR-FM, the public-radio station in Kansas City.

“I love the work, and so at the end of the day, you’ve got to decide. ‘Is the job that you’re thinking about going for, is it a better job than the one you have? And can you do more?’ ”

Ed Martin in 2010 at his election watch party when he ran unsuccessfully for Congress
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

(Updated 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9, 2015)

Despite all the gains that Missouri Republicans made in last fall’s balloting, the state party appears headed for a showdown shortly over who should be its leader heading into the crucial 2016 elections.

Two St. Louisans – incumbent state GOP chairman Ed Martin and former party executive director John Hancock – are competing in an election to determine who gets Martin's job.

St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., is the new chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee. 

Lawmakers have spent much of this week organizing the new Republican-led 114th Congress. Part of the  ritual requires both the Republican and Democratic Caucuses in each chamber to back resolutions on committee creation. Lawmakers then finalize those resolutions with votes in their respective chambers.

That process began on Wednesday, with Blunt confirmed as committee chairman on Thursday. 

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