CLOUT: Don Calloway is Anheuser-Busch’s man in 10 states and a Democratic powerhouse

CLOUT is a regular feature from Beyond November that profiles the pols, pals and pundits who influence the candidates and their campaigns. Have a suggestion for a Clout profile? Send an e-mail to Richard Weiss at

This interview for Beyond November was conducted and written by Tim Poor, a former Washington correspondent and national editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Name:  Don Calloway

Party:  Democrat

Age:  33

Education:  Alabama A&M University, Boston University School of Law

Job: Director of Government Affairs, Anheuser-Busch

Clout:  Calloway was a Missouri House member from St. Louis County in 2009-2010 before losing in a hotly contested Missouri Senate primary in 2010.  He was perhaps best known for his help in overhauling the Northeast Fire Protection District, which had been led by what he called “bad actors.” After his primary defeat he joined A-B, for whom he handles regulatory legislative political affairs in 10 states in the southeast; he also works with the Congressional Black Caucus and Hispanic Caucus in Washington.  Although he shies away from a prominent role Missouri politics, he’s still well-connected as an informal advisor, operative and campaign organizer in the state legislative arena.  Nationally, he’s building relationships with rising stars at the state level, as well as relationships with the White House and the National Democratic Party.

Current campaign work:  He’s helping Jason Kander, the candidate for Secretary of State, who is his former roommate in Jefferson City.

I know I’ve done a good job when …:  “When Sarah-Jane Forman (his wife and a law professor at Washington University) says, ‘Good job, babe.’”  Closer to Pestalozzi Street,  “We’ve had a very good year in staying on our regulatory agenda while still having a great year for sales.”

Beyond November:  “I really would like to see some major conversations about public education reform. It’s tough in an election year.  One of my major frustrations (in the Legislature) was the inability to have substantive education reform.  I saw vividly the entrenched obstructions to that process. The St. Louis public schools are still unaccredited, as is my home district of Normandy. People in decision-making capacities have got to put their heads together and not continue to fail these kids.  I don’t think the Republicans are altogether correct in their solutions, but they have been willing to have the discussion in a way the Democratic party has not, not just here but across the country.

Biggest political disappointment:  “It’s very disappointing to me that Gov. Nixon can win by 20 points and the president would still lose, that Nixon will win re-election but Obama has no shot in Missouri.”

The (first) presidential debate:  “I think President Obama got crushed.  Gov Romney had several times when he could have been called out on things he said that were not true and the president failed to do that. He had a chance to put the game away and he let Mitt back in the game. I’m still a big supporter of the president and I think he will probably still pull it out.”

Political hero:  The late Sen. Thomas Eagleton.  Calloway worked briefly with Eagleton at the St. Louis law firm of Thompson Coburn.  “He was a delightful person to be around and I’m happy to call him my friend.  He was my guy.  He predicted the negative influence of money in politics.  He was a statesman” whose love for St. Louis was reflected in his later work to build a new courthouse and bring the Rams to the city.

Most important race: Nationally, the presidency.  “That’s going to dictate the future of the country’s agenda for the next four years.” In Missouri, the secretary of state’s race. The winner is going to have a tremendous role in the voter ID discussion, and in determining ballot initiatives. The race will also help determine which party’s ‘bench’ of candidates will prevail.

Underrated race: Lieutenant governor.  If Susan Montee wins, she would have as much claim to be a gubernatorial candidate as (Treasurer Clint) Zweifel and (Attorney General Chris) Koster.  She will definitely be a player in statewide politics for some time to come.

Overrated race:  Governor.  “I don’t think anybody believes Dave Spence has a shot.”

Biggest primary surprise: The degree to which Lacy Clay won re-election over Russ Carnahan in the 1st Congressional District. “I thought he would win, but I didn’t think he was going to destroy Russ (Carnahan).

Akin/McCaskill prediction:  “Akin will lose, but he won’t get less than 46-47 percent despite the debacle that has been his campaign.”

Posted in CLOUT: Influential pols, pals & pundits, Commentary
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