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Loudon pushes ahead on effort to block 'card check'

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 6, 2009 - Former state Sen. John Loudon, chairman of Save Our Secret Ballot (SOS), the pro-business effort to block the union-backed "card check,'' says he's raised more than $300,000 and collected more than 60,000 signatures so far for the group's 2010 ballot campaign.

Loudon's group has until May to complete its initiative-petition drive, which seeks to put on next November's ballot a proposal that would bar unions from organizing businesses simply by getting a majority of the employees to sign pro-union cards.

Instead, the unions would need to go the current route that requires work-place elections.

SOS Ballot, a coalition of business groups, wants to have a ban in place in case Congress approves a national version of "card check." So far, the Democrats controlling Congress have been focusing on other issues -- much to the chagrin of some local labor leaders.

Loudon, a Republican from Chesterfield, said this week that his group has hired signature-collection firms to help it collect the needed signatures (close to 158,000) to get its measure on the ballot. The goal is about 220,000 signatures from registered Missouri voters, Loudon said.

He's also still raising money, and says his group will need at least another $200,000 to pay for its ballot-collection drives.

The SOS Ballot group got a lot of publicity this summer, especially when Loudon asserted at one event that unions "blow up cars,'' a reference he said later was partly a joke, but also an allusion to the organized-crime influence that has plagued some unions.

Since then, Loudon also has seen his activities overshadowed by those of his wife, Gina Loudon, who has been a leader in the St. Louis Tea Party conservative movement. She even recently made it onto comedian Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" on fhe cable channel Comedy Central.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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