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Carnahan welcomes support from police, firefighters -- and Carville

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 1, 2010 - Fiery Democratic commentator James Carville will headline a fundraising event next Wednesday for U.S. Senate nominee Robin Carnahan, offering another signal that her campaign now is paying attention to energizing the party's base, with just over a month to go until the Nov. 2 election.

The Carville event's tickets are only $75, cheap by political campaign standards, which indicates that Carnahan is aiming the event at local rank-and-file Democrats -- not high-rollers. That's yet another sign that the campaign's emphasis is shifting, at least partially, to whipping up existing supporters so they turn out at the polls Nov. 2. That's a role Carville is known to relish.

(Her Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, also is focusing on energizing allies with such events as last Friday's visit by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.)

Carville also fits in with Carnahan's "I'm independent" message, since the commentator most recently attracted attention for his TV blasts at President Barack Obama during the Gulf oil-spill crisis this summer. Carnahan, now Missouri's secretary of state, has touted her own differences with the president, although Republicans continue to play up Obama's July campaign stop in Kansas City on her behalf.

The Carville stop, by the way, comes the day before Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to headline a fund-raising event for Carnahan next Thursday in Springfield, Mo., Blunt's home turf.

Police, firefighters' groups praise and endorse Carnahan

This Wednesday morning in south St. Louis, Carnahan sought to highlight her law-and-order credentials by campaigning with the state leaders of the Missouri chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police and the state Council of Firefighters.

Both groups, which combined represent almost 12,000 police and firefighters, are endorsing Carnahan as part of a new group called "First Responders for Carnahan."

Tony Kelley, president of the firefighters council, praised Carnahan for supporting the additional federal spending necessary to achieve "interoperability'," in which different types of communication systems can still communicate with each other.

The lack of interoperability is blamed for many of the deaths among law enforcement personnel in the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks, because firefighters and police could not communicate with each other because of their different radio systems.

The same problem also was reported during the New Orleans disaster when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

Carnahan cited the findings of the 9/11 Commission, and said she would support federal cuts elsewhere to make sure that there was adequate money to help law enforcement agencies achieve interoperability -- which she said was crucial in the case of any future major disaster.

Carnahan also touted her support for the federal COPS program that added 100,000 police to the nation's streets in the 1990s.

Kevin Ahlbrand, state head of the Missouri FOP, said in an interview afterwards that he believed police officers around the state and the country are paying close attention -- and getting energized -- about the Nov. 2 mid-term congressional elections, because of funding cuts and layoffs at many police departments around the country.

Police will support the candidates most willing to commit to the spending needed for proper staffing and equipment needed to keep communities and neighborhoods safe, Ahlbrand said.

Missouri's U.S. Senate race is the only congressional contest where the state Fraternal Order of Police has made an endorsement, he added.

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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