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Lieutenant governor hopeful plans to flood state with robocalls

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 28, 2012 - A Republican candidate for lieutenant governor is planning to unleash a string of automated messages to boost his statewide bid -- at a time when Missouri political leaders are celebrating legislation bolstering the state’s No Call List.

Wentzville attorney Michael Carter said in a press release that starting Saturday, he will release the first of “several million” robo-calls to Missouri voters.

Carter is one of four candidates seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, a group that also includes incumbent Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, state Sen. Brad Lager of Savannah and St. Louis resident Charles W. Kullmann.

In a statement, Carter said he wanted to spread “more of the New-Republican Ron-Paul message."

“Missouri voters simply cannot be made to care about the lieutenant governor's office, regardless of how many dollars Kinder-defectors dole out to another 'status quo' office-climbing candidate, when the likes of (U.S. Rep. Todd) Akin, (Bill) Randles, (Dave) Spence, (John) Brunner, (Fred) Sauer, (former Treasurer) Sarah Steelman and other more meaningful local contests are the main attraction for elected positions that actually carry some force and effect,” said Carter, referring to Republican candidates running for governor and the U.S. Senate.

Carter may be referring to two big donations to Lager from TAMKO President and CEO David Humphreys and retired financer Rex Sinquefield earlier this week. Lager's campaign is already running television ads, including one jabbing Kinder on 2011 news reports regarding his traveling expenses.

Carter said in a telephone interview that he has access to equipment that can make the robo-calls, adding that it’s an inexpensive way of reaching people in a race that may not garner wide public attention.

“With my own name recognition and my Ron Paul push and two guys beating the crap out of each other potentially, I would not fall over if I didn’t end up in second or even first by accident,” Carter said.   

Carter gained notoriety for using robo-calls when he ran for lieutenant governor in 2008 as a Democrat, a contest in which then-Rep. Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur, won by a wide margin. The press release noted that through “this method alone -- literally nothing else -- in 2008,” Carter received about 17 percent of the statewide primary vote.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation earlier this month that extends the state’s No-Call List to cell phones, which Attorney General Chris Koster touted at Friday's Jefferson-Jackson dinner in St. Louis. But the measure doesn't include a ban on political calls.

Carter added though that he plans to honor the “self-directed political no-call list” of 10,000 Missouri voters who opted out of the 2008 calls. He said a feature on his web page allows people to be placed on that list.

In addition to the four candidates for the Republican nomination, eight Democrats are seeking the Democratic nod for the office, including former state Auditor Susan Montee, former state Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, state Rep. Sara Lampe, D-Springfield, former state Rep. Fred Kratky, D-St. Louis, St. Louis School Board member Bill Haas, Conservation Commission member Becky Plattner, former state Rep. Jackie Townes McGee, D-Kansas City, and St. Joseph resident Dennis Weisenburger. 

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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