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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Franc Flotron
Education: Washington University
Job: Founding partner, Flotron & McIntosh, a lobbying firm.
Clout: Flotron was a member of the Missouri House for six years and a state senator for 12 – including a stint as Republican leader – before losing a close GOP primary race to Todd Akin for Congress in 2000. He went to work as a lobbyist for the Missouri Hospital Association (which he still represents), and then founded his own, bipartisan firm with Richard McIntosh in 2001, after Republicans took control of the Missouri Senate. His firm provides lobbying services to a wide range of clients on issues like health care, education, technology and the environment; his clients include Worldwide Technologies and KETC in St. Louis. Although he doesn’t work directly on campaigns – “I don’t need to make a bunch of enemies in the legislature for no reason” – he acts an informal advisor and volunteers occasionally with campaigns.
I know I’ve done a good job when …: “… When it’s accomplished, and nobody knows how it happened. We try to figure out how to start a chain of events that will end up with the right conclusion.”
Beyond November: “Health care is the 6 million-pound gorilla. The incompatibility of what the Democratic Congress did with the Republican legislatures (in Missouri and other states) has some real predicaments. They talk about repealing the ACA (Obamacare) – that’s unlikely or not going to go back to ground Zero. Monetary issues are clearly at the top of the list. Everybody in politics is falling all over themselves to create jobs. I’m not exceedingly optimistic about many government economic development plans. In Missouri, we’ll have an opportunity to debate tax credits, an issue that has been shut down for a long time.”
Biggest political disappointment: At the time, losing the race for Congress. “It was a five way race. Todd, Gene (McNary) and I were very close. It’s not fun to lose when you spend as much time and energy and that of your family and friends. In retrospect I would be hard pressed to want to hold office now. I find the lack of people who can bring disparate sides together and put together good public policy that serves a wide range of perspectives. With districts stratified into strong Democratic or Republican districts, it’s more difficult to find people who have an incentive to blend people’s interests.”
Political hero: Rep. Tom Curtis, longtime Republican congressman from St. Louis County; Flotron worked on his Senate campaign, which Curtis lost to Thomas Eagleton. “He had such good judgment. He knew what he was talking about. He could relate complicated issues in a coherent fashion.”
A close second was Missouri Sen. A. Clifford Jones, whom Flotron replaced. “He was just brilliant. He would zero in on what the important issues were.”
Most important race: Secretary of State. Both candidates would likely be in line for bigger statewide office.
Underrated race: Missouri senate races in southeast Missouri, which may be the Democrats’ best hope of holding onto rural Senate seats. “I never thought I’d live to see the day there were no Democrats in the Missouri Senate.”
Biggest primary surprise: Lacy Clay’s huge margin and the effect it had down the ballot. In the Senate race: “That Claire is so clever as to get her preferred Republican nominated (Flotron supported Sarah Steelman). You’ve just got to take your hat off and salute.” Another surprise was Tishaura Jones’s win for city treasurer. “I thought she was going to win, but I was awed by the margin.”
Akin/McCaskill prediction: “I don’t think it’s real. I would be dumbfounded if Todd got close. Claire is clever and smart.” Who’s he voting for? “I’d rather not answer that …”