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Thoughts on Tuesday’s Primary

August 10, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy No Comments
Missouri Capital, Jefferson City, MO, April 2011

Today you get my thoughts on Tuesday’s election, starting in…Ohio’s special election to fill a vacant U.S. House seat. As you’ve likely heard, Ohio’s 12th District has been in GOP hands for decades. Trump won big in the district. Yet, GOP nominee Balderson is barely leading.

Election officials in Franklin County found 588 previously uncounted votes in a Columbus suburb. The result: O’Connor had a net gain of 190 votes, bringing the race’s margin down to 1,564.

“The votes from a portion of one voting location had not been processed into the tabulation system,” according to a Franklin County Board of Elections news release.

Balderson declared victory Tuesday night in the closely watched congressional district race in central Ohio. But O’Connor says he’s waiting for all votes to be counted. 

That includes 3,435 provisional ballots and 5,048 absentee ballots, which will be tabulated by Aug. 24.  (USA Today)

Interestingly, regardless of who is declared the winner these same two will face off again in November. Tuesday’s special election was to finish the term into January 2019. One may win now, but lose in November. The seat may stay in GOP hands, but it’s significant the race is so close. However, I don’t think this signals a nationwide “blue wave”, as each house district has unique circumstances, local economy, for example.

Here in Missouri I quietly thought deep red outstate voters would approve right-to-work. In May the vote on the referendum was moved up to August from November to increase the odds of passage — it still failed:

Missouri voters handed the state’s unions and the labor movement nationwide a win Tuesday evening, opting to reject the state’s right-to-work law.
Tuesday’s referendum in the state gave voters the chance to strike down a law the state Legislature passed last year that would prohibit employees from being forced to join a union or to otherwise pay “fair share” fees to a given workplace’s union. Rules like this are commonly referred to as “right-to-work” laws, and by prohibiting requirements for employees to join a union or pay fees to a union negotiating on their behalf, they are generally understood to weaken labor organizations in places where they are enacted. (CNN)

Maybe Missouri isn’t as red as I thought. Of course, it has gone for GOP presidential candidates for the last five presidential elections. Still, Missouri’s senior senator is moderate Democrat Claire McCaskill. As expected, she easily won the Tuesday primary. I voted for one of challengers to her left. Many of you know, in November 2016 I voted Green in the presidential race because I knew Missouri’s electoral college votes would go Red, not Blue. The U.S, Senate race is very different — every single vote matters. McCaskill is too conservative for me, but I’ll vote Blue in November to keep Hawley out and increase the odds of Democrats taking over the Senate.

It was exciting seeing Cori Bush campaign for the U.S, House with New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but incumbent Lacy Clay still won the primary.

Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay, a longtime incumbent and the scion of a St. Louis political dynasty, held onto his seat in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District on Tuesday, fending off a primary challenger from Cori Bush, a nurse, pastor and progressive political activist. 

Bush had hoped to replicate the success of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who endorsed her and pulled off a similar upset when she defeated New York Rep. Joe Crowley in June. But Lacy Clay’s longstanding ties to the district were too much to overcome.

Before Lacy Clay won his seat in the 2000 election, his father ? Bill Clay, one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus ? had held it since 1969. Lacy Clay is a career politician, first winning office almost immediately after graduating college. (Huffington Post)

I loathe political dynasties. I like 2-term limits for President, but 8 year term limits in Jefferson City has been a disaster. I do think in the US House we need limited of stay 10-15 terms. We also need big money out of politics.

Another incumbent successfully fended off a challenger.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger narrowly survived a tough Democratic primary challenge on Tuesday, but there could still be trouble ahead.

More daunting than the November general election, where he faces nominal Republican opposition, may be governing Missouri’s largest county in partnership with an antagonistic county council. A bipartisan coalition there has clashed with Stenger for more than a year, and Stenger’s last consistent council ally was toppled by a young challenger in Tuesday’s vote.

“It’s going to be a very difficult four years for the county executive unless he develops some support on the county council,” said E. Terrence Jones, a professor emeritus at the University of Missouri-St. Louis whose research includes metropolitan governance. (Post-Dispatch)

It’ll be interesting to watch St. Louis County politics play out. Also interesting to watch will be the County Prosecutor’s office, because incumbent Robert McCulloch, first elected in 1990, lost on Tuesday.

Political scholars and St. Louis-area lawyers said Wednesday that McCulloch lost for reasons other than Ferguson. Having served for nearly three decades, McCulloch dismissed Bell for his inexperience as a prosecutor and didn’t consider him a serious candidate. Part of his message during the campaign was that Bell had never prosecuted a felony case.

“It’s difficult when you’ve not had a tough contest in a long time to gear back up again,” said E. Terrence Jones, professor emeritus in the political science department at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “Wesley Bell showed a tremendous ability to mobilize millennials and get them involved in the race, which enabled him to close much of the financial gap between himself and Bob McCulloch.”

Bell benefitted, too, from other Senate and House primaries on the Democratic ballot that boosted turnout in districts in north and central St. Louis County, Jones said. (Post-Dispatch)

I was 23 when I moved to St. Louis in August 1990 — McCulloch is the only St. Louis County Prosecutor during my time in St. Louis. It is unclear to me at this time if a prosecutor can implement changes like cash bail reform. Must Bell convince the County Council to pass legislation and get Stenger to sign it?

In St. Louis City Hall the incumbent License Collector & Recorder of Deeds candidates defeated primary challenges. As has been my experience for nearly 3 decades in St. Louis — very little will change.  Next week a look at the November ballot. [NOTE: This post originally indicated the incumbent was reelected as Recorder of Deeds — but challenger Michael Butler received just over 50% of the vote in the 3-way race. Incumbent Sharon Carpenter received less than 42%.] 

— Steve Patterson

 

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