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Slay, Clay predict good day for statewide Democrats

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 6, 2012 - U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay probably doesn’t have much to worry about today, especially since the St. Louis Democrat is widely expected to prevail against Republican Robyn Hamlin in the 1st congressional district. That’s definitely a change from a few months ago, when Clay was locked in a highly charged Democratic primary against U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis.

But President Barack Obama will likely not be as successful in Missouri, a state that both national parties effectively skipped in the race for the White House. And in an interview after voting at St. Roch School in St. Louis’ 28th Ward, Clay said, “It was a mistake to write off the state of Missouri.”

“When you look at the history of four years ago, we came so close to winning it,” said Clay, referring to Obama’s narrow loss in 2008 in the state to U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Clay also said he a bit befuddled by the possibility that Obama may lose Missouri, but Democratic statewide candidates – including Gov. Jay Nixon and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. – may prevail. “When you look at our ticket – our statewide ticket – most of the Democrats are projected to win,” Clay said. “I really don’t understand the pattern of voting. If you’re going to vote for Claire or vote for Jay, why wouldn’t you for a president? He’s done a credible job. He has pursued a progressive agenda that most Democrats identify with. So I don’t understand.”

If that scenario occurs, Clay said it shows Missourians “are really independent voters – they are really selective about their choices of who they want to represent them.” Asked if a decisive Romney victory would be worrying for somebody like McCaskill, Clay said, “It looks like from all polling data she’s running ahead in every poll.”

“So that’s probably a good sign for Claire,” Clay said. “But when you think about it, if Romney wins Missouri by a wide margin, it probably will have a coattail effect. But like I said, Missourians are selective for who they vote for.”

Joining Clay at St. Roch was St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, who told the Beacon that he’s seen “a good steady flow of voters coming to the polls.”

A big turnout from Democratic voters in urban areas is critical for someone like McCaskill – as well as the other Democrats running for the five statewide offices up for grabs today.

“We do have a very heavily Democratic base in St. Louis,” Slay said. “Certainly the heavier voting that we have here, the more it’s going to help the Democratic candidates statewide. … I’ve been to a number of precincts and I’m going to go to some more, we do see a real steady flow of voters coming out, in some cases long lines of people wanting to vote. That’s all a good sign, we like to see that.”

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

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