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Missouri Republicans embrace Massachusetts victory as repudiation of Democrats' agenda

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 19, 2010 - Missouri Republicans were jubilant Tuesday night as they celebrated the victory of GOP candidate Scott Brown in Massachusetts, and predicted that his win will have an impact in Missouri -- for politics and policy.

By Wednesday morning, area Republican candidates already were attempting to tie their Democratic opponents to the Massachusetts results.

"This is an unmistakable repudiation of the Democrats’ agenda—from their health-care debacle to cap-and-trade and the expansion of the federal government into the lives and pocketbooks of hard-working Americans," said Missouri Republican Party chairman David Cole.

“Scott Brown’s victory has put Missouri Democrats on notice," he continued. "Now more than ever, it is clear that Missourians will hold Robin Carnahan, Claire McCaskill, Ike Skelton, and Russ Carnahan accountable for blindly supporting the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda while turning their backs on our state.”

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., wrote on Twitter that she was concerned about Brown's impact on policy. "With Brown's victory, I worry about our chances of bringing down health-care costs & cleaning up bad habits of health ins companies," she tweeted.

Even before the Massachusetts' polls closed, a majority of the GOP-controlled Missouri House voted Tuesday evening in favor of a resolution that called on the state's members of Congress to oppose the Democratic-backed health-care bills that have passed the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House.

Those supporting the anti-health-care measure included 22 Democrats in the state House, several St. Louis area legislators among them.

Locally, about 200 Brown supporters packed O'B Clark's, a restaurant and bar in Brentwood, watching the vote count on banks of TVs tuned into Fox News. The crowd cheered when Brown's Democratic rival, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, conceded shortly before 8:30 p.m.

Tom Haenni of Kirkwood said he's a political independent and supported Brown's victory as "a good sign that people are tired of all the spending on the government sector."

Jaci Winship, executive director of Missourians Against Human Cloning, saw Brown's success as a sign the country may be moving in her camp's direction.

"I am much more hopeful than I was in 2006," Winship said, referring to the victories of McCaskill and Amendment 2, the constitutional amendment that now protects all forms of embryonic stem cell research and cloning allowed under federal law.

Tuesday night's gathering had been organized by St. Louis lawyer Ed Martin, a Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan. On Twitter, Martin dubbed Carnahan "the new Coakley."

U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Springfield and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, asserted in a statement that Brown's victory is signaling a national trend.

"The people of Massachusetts have decided the 'people's seat' should be held by Scott Brown," Blunt said. "This result may shock the pundits, but it should not surprise anybody who has been talking with the American people. The people are concerned about jobs and our economy. They are rejecting the job-killing policies of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama and their out-of-control taxing, spending, debt and borrowing. Now the people in one of America's most liberal states have rejected an Obama-Pelosi-Reid rubberstamp. With hard work we will do the same in other states -- including Missouri."

Blunt didn't mention the likely Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, who issued no statement Tuesday night about the Massachusetts results.

Locally, Republican Bill Corrigan -- who is seeking to oust St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, a Democrat -- sent out a statement that attempted to tie Dooley to Coakley, and portray Corrigan as the local version of Brown.

Wednesday afternoon, the Missouri Democratic Party finally issued a statement, in which it attempted to refute some of the GOP interpretations of their Massachusetts victory:

"Our mindset hasn't changed in Missouri. We know this is going to be another hard fought election year, with the races going down to the wire. What's clear from Massachusetts is the Brown campaign was successful because they positioned him as an 'outsider'.

"In Missouri, Congressman Roy Blunt is no Scott Brown. He is the ultimate Washington insider. If Congressman Blunt is the Republican U.S. Senate nominee in Missouri, he will have to answer for his years as a Washington insider and his record of putting special interests and lobbyists before the people of Missouri."

As we reported earlier -- All Missouri political eyes appear to be trained east as activists in both parties watch the drama unfolding today in Massachusetts, where Republican Scott Brown appears poised to be the first Republican in 30-plus years to get elected to the U.S. Senate from arguably the nation's bluest state.

Missouri's top Republican, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, is holding a watch party for Brown tonight in Jefferson City.

Locally, GOP congressional candidate Ed Martin is hosting a watch event at O'B Clark's, 1921 South Brentwood Boulevard, beginning at 7 p.m. (That happens to coincide with the 8 p.m. poll closings in Massachusetts.)

Democratic nominee Martha Coakley, Massachusetts' attorney general, appears to have been cloaked with the problems and perceptions -- some by her own doing -- that plagued former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis in his failed quest for the White House in 1988.

Like Dukakis, Coakley had an early hefty lead and apparently embraced the delusion that it would carry her through to Election Day, with little effort. Research 2000 pollster Del Ali (who has conducted polls for ;the Post-Dispatch) mentioned Dukakis as he discussed his latest poll in that state, conducted for the progressive blog Daily Kos, that showed Coakley and Brown neck and neck.

Ali's latest poll was the most optimistic for Coakley, with others showing varying leads for Brown. Ali said in an interview that the results will obviously depend on which side has the most success in getting their supporters to the polls.

Early polling-place observations on TV news shows from reporters on the ground indicated that Brown continues to have the momentum. Brown would be the first Republican senator from Massachusetts since Edward Brooke (who held the seat that John Kerry now holds).

Kinder spokesman Gary McElyea said that a Brown victory could have a ripple effect in Missouri. The GOP sees the Massachusetts race as a referendum on the Democrats' proposed health-care changes, he said. And if Brown wins, McElyea said Missouri Republicans expect to make an even stronger push for legislation and resolutions opposing any federal changes.

The federal legislation, as it stands, "would be treacherous to our state and state sovereignty," the Kinder spokesman said.

Later today, the Missouri House plans to debate a resolution to that effect, according to House Speaker Ron Richard's latest Tweet.

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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