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Government, Politics & Issues

Tuesday's primary will be an end and the beginning

Tuesday's primary -- featuring candidate contests, a St. Louis school bond issue and the first statewide vote on federal health care reform -- will be an end and the beginning.

For many candidates, Tuesday's primary results (click here to read the Beacon's overview of the races and issues) will spell the end of their political hopes. But for others, their primary victories will launch their new campaigns for Nov. 2 election.

This is why election-night parties -- or the decision not to have one -- often have as much political thought put into them as some campaign ads.

Take, for example, state Rep. Allen Icet, in a tight Republican contest with Tom Schweich for their party's nomination for state auditor.

Schweich, who has the backing of many top state Republicans, is holding his election-night gathering at J.Buck's in Clayton -- a site in keeping with his high-level support.

Icet, however, has chosen not to have any sort of party because he plans to campaign all day Tuesday in southwest Missouri -- scene of the hottest congressional battle in the state.

The 7th District contest is to choose a successor to U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Springfield, who is running instead for the U.S. Senate. The packed Republican field is expected to attract one of the largest GOP turnouts in the state.

Since the turnout is expected to be lower elsewhere in Missouri, Icet's campaign decided that it would be smart if he spent Election Day being very visible in the 7th District. Especially if the Schweich-Icet race is as tight as some predict.

Political calculations of a different sort may have contributed to the decision of the Democratic incumbent, state Auditor Susan Montee, to be in St. Louis on primary night, even though she hails from St. Joseph, Mo.

Before gathering with other Democrats at O'B Clarks's restaurant/bar  in Brentwood, Montee is joining with St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and others by participating in "National Night Out," a program aimed at highlighting anti-crime efforts locally and elsewhere.

Since Montee is from western Missouri, her presence Tuesday in St. Louis appears aimed at energizing and elevating her profile among urban Democrats on this side of the state. She most likely will be holding her Nov. 2 event on her home turf.

Meanwhile, the state's two best-known candidates for the U.S. Senate -- Republican Blunt and Democrat Robin Carnahan -- appear to each have taken strategy in mind when selecting where to hold their expected "victory party."

Carnahan, Missouri's secretary of state, is gathering with many state Democrats in Kansas City, even though that region is predicted to have a paltry turnout Tuesday of only 10 percent or not much higher.

Missouri statewide Democrats (with the exception of Montee) often hold their primary events in Kansas City, because the general-election gatherings are traditionally held in St. Louis -- where the region typically provides a significantly larger share of the statewide Democratic vote. 

Expected fall opponents: Robin Carnahan, Democrat; Roy Blunt, Republican

Blunt is taking a different approach. Even though Blunt is from Springfield, Mo., he is holding his election-night event in south St. Louis at J.K. Pulley, which manufactures parts for a variety of machines, including guns.
The plant's setting reflects Blunt's plans to emphasize economic issues in his fall campaign, and his oft-declared assertion that he hopes to do well in Democratic-dominated St. Louis -- especially among socially conservative Democrats.

His election-night choice also serves another purpose. Blunt is holding his event jointly with St. Louis lawyer-GOP activist Ed Martin, who hopes to win the party's nod to challenge U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, in November.

Russ Carnahan is the brother of Robin Carnahan, and Republicans are trying to tie Robin Carnahan with her brother's progressive voting record. National Republicans also hope that Martin's campaign, win or lose, will drive up Republican turnout in Russ Carnahan's 3rd District -- presumably hurting Robin Carnahan's statewide chances.

Blunt's appearance with Martin obviously elevates Martin's profile.

Russ Carnahan, meanwhile, has opted to take part with Montee and Slay in the "National Night Out" event. Among other things, the congressman may be seeking to underscore his concern about urban issues and his support for law-enforcement and anti-crime measures. Aside from the policy aspect, participating in such a gathering on primary night also could be seen as good politics.

As for Blunt's most-active primary rival, state Sen. Chuck Purgason, he plans to hold his election-night gathering at Pillar in the Valley in Chesterfield -- even though Purgason, R-Caulfield, also hails from the opposite side of the state.

Purgason said he is having his election-night party where he has his headquarters -- a fact that also underscores the political importance of the St. Louis area.

Last-minute cash, endorsements

Meanwhile, last-minute developments in the GOP's contest for state auditor also exemplify the scurrying of all candidates in combative contests as they seek final infusions of money and support.

Icet and Schweich both attracted major last-minute donations from prominent Republicans, which are helping to pay for their relentless robo-call operations around the state, which target frequent primary voters. Robo-calls often are seen as cost-effective in low-turnout primaries, and smart politics, because they reach the people deemed most likely to vote.

Icet also received a late-breaking endorsement from U.S. Rep Todd Akin, R-Town and County. Schweich earlier had gotten support from other high-level Republicans.

Meanwhile, last-minute donations are being reported in a number of area legislative contests -- notably the vicious state Senate fight among three Republicans in the St. Louis County's 26th District. Outgoing state House Speaker Ron Richard has donated $25,000 to one of the candidates, state Rep. Brian Nieves, while Herzog Construction Co. of St. Joseph, Mo., gave $15,000 to another 26th District hopeful, Richard Stratman.

Last-minute cash also was reported by Missourians For Health Care Freedom, the chief campaign group backing Proposition C, the measure aimed at exempting Missouri from some of the new federal health care mandates.

Ethelmae Humphreys, a major Republican donor from Joplin, Mo., donated $25,000 late last week to the pro-Prop C effort.

The Missouri Hospital Association, the only major group raising public questions about Proposition C, has reported spending more than $400,000 for mailers sent to would-be voters around the state, according to the grouo's last-minute filings with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

St. Louis School Bond Issue

In the city, St. Louis Public Schools are asking voters to approve a $155 million bond issue that would involve no tax increase for property owners. The measure needs a four-seventh majority for passage.

Part of the bonds come from the federal stimulus package passed by Congress last year. The proceeds would be used for capital improvements in various city school buildings, with the changes designed to fall into three major categories: Improving student achievement, with more computers, more pre-kindergarten classrooms, better science labs and more gifted education programs; student safety and security; and healthy lifestyles, including better school kitchens and improved athletic facilities.

The school system has mounted a campaign aimed at likely yes voters, concentrating on getting out the vote. Opponents include members of the elected school board, who say the Special Administrative Board now running the school system is running a misleading campaign and has a poor record of fiscal management.

Read earlier Beacon stories

With Aug. 3 primary looming, GOP candidates use Prop C to attract support

Primary is key in many Missouri Senate districts

With Prop C, Missouri voters will be first in nation to weigh in on health-care reform

In GOP contest for state auditor, Icet and Schweich both tap into anti-Obama mood

Democratic stalwart in Jefferson County faces stiff challenge for county exec nomination

St. Louis Public School District kicks off Prop S campaign for $155 million school bond issue

Akin endorses Icet in state auditor contest

Missouri Democrats set up shop in St. Peters, with eye on November

Fox, Kinder, Sinquefield provide last-minute campaign cash

Slay makes prominent pitch for Schweitzer, in circuit clerk contest

Prop C supporters predict victory, blast hospital group for its oppositionOnly a quarter of Missouri voters expected to cast ballots next Tuesday

Dale Singer of the Beacon also contributed to this report. This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.

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