Missouri In Black And White

Hartmann, Reed and Zemitzsch

Missouri Democratic statewide candidates cruised to victory statewide on Nov. 6, but the party’s standard-bearer, Barack Obama lost the state by nearly 10 percent. Why? Ray Hartmann says the answer is race. Here’s how Democrat Gwen Reed and Republican Paul Zemitzsch responded.

Gwen Reed, Democratic political consultant:

This is an ongoing debate and concern for Missourians. Personally, I strongly agree with Mr. Hartmann. Every statewide Democratic candidate (with the exception of one) won their election.

All of these candidates are members of the same political party with many of the same ideologies as President Obama. You could say they were on the same page. Then how could their constituents vote for Mitt Romney, the opposition?

Perhaps one would have a better understanding if they studied the history of race relations in Missouri. Starting with the fact that Missouri was a slave state, research the Dred Scott case, revisit the Jim Crow era, understand that separate but equal was not equal and then re-read the account of the Fairground Park riot. Or, try to find a report on the riot that took place at Beaumont High School in the 60’s (I lived it; I was a junior at the time).

Now it is time to put ALL of this behind us and move FORWARD. BARACK OBAMA IS our President and one thing we can do to help him is to start having serious, meaningful discussions about race relations in this country. The white population is fast losing the majority race status and African-Americans are fast losing the majority minority status.

Paul Zemitzsch, Republican political consultant:

Missouri is not the same state as I grew up in decades ago. Missouri then was a conservative Democrat state helmed by Warren Hearnes and others that kept it a blue state before there was such a color designation. Since then, outstate Missouri has changed the hue to red on a presidential level. But, statewide the results have varied ever since the Bill Webster debacle in 1992 cast Republicans into the wilderness for awhile.

As I’ve said before, Missouri and St. Louis don’t like major change. People sort of like things as they are and don’t topple top leadership haphazardly. We just aren’t a Wisconsin-type of model.

It would be naïve to think race doesn’t play some part in election results, but it is not simply a black and white issue. It’s young-older, women-men, Latino and other minority and the list gets long. Obama did well among urban, higher-educated, younger, professional and female white voters. Romney did terribly among black and Latino voters, but that was both a self-inflicted wound by the candidate and the complete dysfunction of the Republican Party addressing the critical issues of those groups.

McCaskill’s election in particular was not a referendum on race. When Republican voters were silly enough to nominate a jihadist Christian candidate, they got what they deserved. I’m sure blacks in Missouri overwhelmingly voted against Todd Akin, but then so did virtually every other group that doesn’t believe The Scarlet Letter is a modern guide for living.

As America increasingly becomes a mixed race country in the decades to come, this argument of classic racial division will go the way of the Whigs.


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

CLOUT: St. Louisan Clifford Franklin Lit The Fuse With African-American Voters For The Obama Campaign

CLOUT is a regular feature from Beyond November that profiles the pols, pals and pundits who influence the candidates and their campaigns. 

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:  Clifford Franklin

Party:  Democrat

Job:  Chief Executive Officer, Fuse Advertising

Clout:  Franklin founded the St. Louis ad agency in 1997, along with his wife and brother, carving out a niche firm that creates and places corporate and political advertising designed to appeal to minority voters, but which is also “fused” to broader audiences as well.  Clients have included Entergy, CNN,  Hyundai, IBM, Anheuser-Busch, and a number of Democratic candidates.

But Franklin’s biggest client has been President Barack Obama, for whom he developed ads for African-American voters in battleground states that were key to Obama’s victories in 2008 and last Tuesday.  CNN reported that Obama for America spent about $2.8 million with the firm during the just-ended campaign.

“We’re extremely proud of the turnout,” Franklin told Beyond November.  “In key battleground states it was higher than projected.  It’s been a good run for us.  We’ve been messaging throughout the year, insuring there would not be an enthusiasm gap.”  Franklin was impressed by Obama’s campaign gurus, David Axelrod and Plouffe.  “None of these guys had egos – it was truly about getting the president elected and re-elected.”

Franklin’s firm also worked on the successful U.S. Senate campaigns of Claire McCaskill in Missouri and Tim Kaine in Virginia.

Here are some of Franklin’s post-election thoughts:

Biggest thrill:

“Seeing the team recreate the magic of 2008.  We didn’t panic after the first debate. That we could play a small role in getting the first African-American president elected and re-elected, is a crowning joy – it’s almost surreal. “

Biggest disappointment:

Media coverage of the election.  “It’s almost like they’re hyping a Super Bowl game.  It’s not a game.  It’s people’s lives.  I had to turn off the major cable outlets.”

Biggest surprise:  None in the presidential race.  “Our internal numbers came out pretty accurate.”

Big picture: What will this election will mean for the United States?

“I think the economy is definitely coming back.  Things are changing.  Political discourse is so bad in America,  I’m hoping he (Obama) can be the unifying figure he wanted to be in 2008. It’s important for him to oversee the resurgence in America.”

Smaller picture – What will this election will mean for Missouri?

That Democrats did very well in statewide races – except for Obama – means racial divisions still matter in the state.  “Absolutely, race plays a factor,” said Franklin.  He hopes his high profile national work for Obama might translate into more local business. “We’ve been doing national campaigns since 2004, but rarely in the state of Missouri.  It’s always been a struggle for us to do business in our own hometown.  It baffles me.”

What the election means for 2014:

“What I hope is people see minority voters are engaged in the political process.  Most ballot initiatives do not target minority voters.  Minority targeting should be baked into the strategy from the beginning, (as in the Obama campaign), not as an afterthought in the last 30 days.  It’s my hope that campaign managers will see that and say, ‘Why don’t we try that?’ And I hope corporations see that.”

“I think race did play a role, when you look at the GOP and the demographics.”  But Franklin adds that it’s not just demographics, but the substance behind the numbers.  Romney scored low among Hispanics because of the anti-immigration stance he and the Republican party adopted, leading voters to think:  “These guys are not looking out for our best interests.”

What the election means for 2016:

“It comes down to how the economy does.  The GOP has to look at whether to run a moderate or a staunch conservative.  Democrats must duplicate the Obama campaign team.”

Message from the electorate to Republicans:

“We’re not stupid.”

Message from the electorate to Democrats:

“Keep fighting.  Years ago, Reagan coined the phrase ‘hand-wringing liberals.’  Now, Democrats are fighting back.”

Anything else?

“I believe great communications can transcend race.  A great brand can speak to a multitude of people. “

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

CLOUT: Callow Found Campaign Thrilling; Hulshof Not So Much

Over the course of the recently concluded election campaign, Tim Poor profiled 16 pols and pundits who influence the candidates and their campaigns. Now in the aftermath, we are checking back to get their takes on the outcome. Weighing in today: Richard Callow and Renee Hulshof.

Callow is a Democratic publicist, the president of Public Eye Inc. and campaign guru for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.  Hulshof is a Republican commentator on KFRU-AM in Columbia, Mo.

Biggest thrill:

Callow: The election of combat pilot, double-amputee, tri-lingual Tammy Duckworth in IL 08.   Best line of her campaign: “I just had to do more with my life.”

Hulshof: The thrill is gone!

Biggest disappointment:

Callow: Scott Brown’s loss in Massachusetts cost me a share of the win in my Election Night bracket.  I will ask for a recount if Brown is named to the US Senate vacancy when John Kerry vacates it to become US Secretary of State.

Hulshof: The Romney loss. The unemployment rate at or near 8%, the Benghazi scandal and the faltering economy would have spelled doom for any Republican, but not, apparently, for this administration.

Biggest surprise

Callow:  Democrats’ Election Night parties. How could savvy Gov. Nixon and AG Koster not have foreseen that the regional and national media would all be going to Claire McCaskill’s party at the Chase, not to their party at the Pageant?

Hulshof: That the US Senate race in Missouri was not closer. I had predicted a McCaskill win, but with a much tighter margin. The numbers were a surprise.

Big picture —  What will this election will mean for the United States?

Callow:  Second terms challenge their presidents. More have tarnished their legacies than built them; most of them risk it.

Hulshof: Either the chance for some decent reform if the White House and Senate decide to play ball with the House. Or just more of the same morass.

Smaller picture – What will this election will mean for Missouri?

Callow: Ambitious MO Democrats will try on Republican rhetoric. So will ambitious MO Republicans.

Hulshof:  Nothing changes–the Missouri House has a veto proof majority and the Senate stayed with Republicans as well. This means Governor Nixon’s hands stay tied and his campaign promises from yesteryear remain unfulfilled (as we knew they would).

What the election means for 2014

Callow : A hunt for red November.

Hulshof:  Another 1/3 of the US Senate is up, with the majority being Democrats; therefore if the policies of this administration continue to flounder, it could mean a change in control.

What the election means for 2016:

Callow: Missouri may produce one or more Democratic presidential contenders.

Hulshof: Too soon to tell–the economy will be the decider.

Message from the electorate to Republicans:

Callow: “Too much tea is dangerous. We’ll try some coffee.”

Hulshof:  “Define yourself.”

Message from the electorate to Democrats:  

Callow: “¿Quisiera bailar conmigo?”

Hulshof: “We’re still holding you in check with a Republican House.”

Anything else?

Hulshof: Pass the popcorn. It’s gonna be an interesting time!


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

CLOUT: Our Pols, Pals & Pundits Provide Their Take On Campaign 2012

Over the course of the recently concluded election campaign, Tim Poor profiled 16 pols, pals and pundits who influence the candidates and their campaigns. Now in the aftermath, we are checking back to see what the outcome meant to them and the people they support. Weighing in today: Gwen Reed, a Democrat, and Paul Zemitzsch, a Republican.

Reed is a Democratic committeewoman who managed the successful primary campaign of U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay. Zemitzsch is a political consultant who headed the successful campaign for Proposition L, the St. Louis County library tax increase.

Biggest thrill

Reed: Four more years of President Obama’s leadership.

Zemitzsch: Winning is an aphrodisiac so it’s all good.  Seeing voters respond positively to community needs in a tough economy reinforces your faith invoters’ judgment.

Biggest disappointment

Reed: I do not understand how Democrats can win statewide in Missouri and lose to a Republican presidential candidate.

Zemitzsch: Waking up this morning with Missouri still having the lowest cigarette tax in the nation based on opponents’ “red herring” campaign.

Biggest surprise

Reed: That Obama is winning Florida.

Zemitzsch: None really, except for the electoral surgery the Obama campaign performed so skillfully.

Big picture: What will this election will mean for the United States?

Reed: President Obama will have four more years to right the injustice of the previous administration. The middle class and the working electorate may realize a real level playing field. President Obama will appoint the next Supreme Court Justices!

Zemitzsch: Both nationally and in Missouri, voters chose to stay the course with the majority of their elected officials. The whole political season promoted a need to change direction and voters didn’t buy it.

Smaller picture: What will this election will mean for Missouri?

Reed: Even though we have a majority Republican legislature, we still have Senator McCaskill, Congressman Clay, Congressman Cleaver, and Governor Nixon fighting together for our interests.

Zemitzsch: There’s an old saying that in St. Louis—and now Missouri—all change is bad. Guess the saying is correct.

What the election means for 2014

Reed: Democrats have a chance of taking back the House of Representatives.

Zemitzsch: With term limits, the scramble begins today from the governor’s office on down.

What the election means for 2016:

Reed: I believe you may see a more inclusive Republican Party.

Zemitzsch: Term-limited president and governor with a whole new field and the rising power of the women’s and Latino votes.

Message from the electorate to Republicans


Zemitzsch: You are doomed to failure for a generation if you don’t wake up and see America has changed.

Message from the electorate to Democrats

Reed: Continue to band together and help keep America moving forward.

Zemitzsch: Youth and demographics are on your side. Don’t blow it.

Anything else?


Zemitzsch: Well, we can all get back to more important issues like what Kim Kardashian is wearing and whatever happened to Paris Hilton. It’s great to be an American!



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

CLOUT: ‘Never Count Todd Akin Out,’ Says Former Staffer Patrick Werner

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 rweiss@stlbeacon.org.

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:  Patrick Werner

Party: Republican

Age: 41

Job:  State Director, Americans for Prosperity-Missouri

Education: Quincy University, Webster University

Clout:  Werner cut his political teeth in the office of Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, becoming Bond’s district director in 1998-2000.  He joined Rep. Jim Talent’s gubernatorial campaign in 2000 as political director; after Talent lost to Bob Holden, Werner set up the office for Talent’s replacement in Congress, Todd Akin.  He was Akin’s district director until last year, when he joined Americans for Prosperity, the anti-tax organization founded by billionaire David Koch.  Werner directs the group in Missouri, one of 16 states the group has targeted this year.  Although AFP doesn’t endorse candidates, its work is supportive of Republicans, such as its big negative ad buy against Senate candidate Claire McCaskill in August.  The group is backing the November ballot initiative to require legislative approval for the state to create insurance exchanges called for by the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.  (The law calls for the federal government to set up exchanges in states that fail to do so). In addition to working to overturn Obamacare, the group is backing legislation in Missouri to cap state spending.

I know I’ve done a good job when …:  “When someone sends me a handwritten note thanking me or saying, ‘Hey that was a great job.’”

Beyond November:  Everyone’s going to be talking about Obamacare, but the biggest issue for me is a balanced budget amendment at the federal level.  I think the timing is right. It is time to get serious about spending. I think we can get that out of the House and move into some real spending cuts.

Biggest political disappointment: The 2000 governor’s race (in which Holden beat Talent).  “It was a great opportunity for me, so much responsibility, so much fun.  It was a close election.  That one kind of hit me pretty hard.”

Political hero:  Brad Scott, who was Bond’s Missouri director and Talent’s campaign manager.  “He has an incredible work ethic.”  And Catherine Hanaway, his boss in Bond’s office.  “She’s just so smart.”

Most important race: Governor.  “I just think Missouri needs some really bold ideas and attitudes.  We lost a congressional seat, we’re falling behind.”

Underrated race:  Missouri treasurer.  “No one’s really talking about that race.  It’s flying under the radar screen.”

Biggest primary surprise:  Akin.  “Everyone thought Brunner was going to win big.  I’m not surprised Akin won, but by how big he won.”

Akin/McCaskill prediction:  “I’ve learned to never count Todd Akin out.  But I think it’s an uphill battle.  We’re sort of in uncharted waters – it’s the first time Missouri doesn’t have a presidential race (neither candidate is campaigning in the state) – none of us really know what that means.  We don’t know what the turnout is going to look like.”

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

CLOUT: ‘If Barack Obama Looked Like Me He’d Win Missouri,’ says consultant Michael Kelley

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 rweiss@stlbeacon.org.

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:  Michael Kelley

Party: Democrat

Age:  37

Twitter: @mskstl

Education: University of Missouri – St. Louis

Job:  Founder, principal, the Kelley Group, a public communication strategy firm; and Show Me Victories, a political consulting firm.

Clout:  Kelley was the executive director of the Missouri Democratic Party from 2000-2004 and also served as political director of the Missouri AFL-CIO. (His father, Robert Kelley, was the longtime head of the St. Louis Labor Council.) He was national political advisor to Rep. Richard Gephardt during Gephardt’s unsuccessful presidential bid in 2003-4; he ran John Edwards’ Missouri campaign after Gephardt dropped out of the race.  He founded the Kelley Group in 2004 and now provides political advice to candidates and proposition campaigns – notably the successful $1 billion MSD bond issue campaign last summer. Kelley is also featured frequently with Republican consultant John Hancock on KMOX radio and runs a blog, KelleyCorner.com

Current campaign work:  Proposition A (local police control) and various  Democratic state legislative candidates.

I know I’ve done a good job when …:  “…When our client is successful and no one really knows I played a role.”

Beyond November:  “I think we’re going to have to finally quit kicking the can down the road. We’ve got a fiscal cliff we’re going to come to in 2013.  Governing really takes place in off-election years. I think you’re going to see maybe for the first time in a while the politicians realize they have to compromise and find solutions.  In Missouri, the number one issue is to create jobs.  We have an irrelevant legislature.  We haven’t passed an economic development bill in 4-5 years.  Anytime tough decisions come up, they punt. They’re not doing their job. Term limits is a problem, one of the most harmful things we’ve ever experienced. It makes lobbyists far more powerful than they should be.  It discourages compromise because he (the term-limited legislator) doesn’t have to live to fight another day. “

Biggest political disappointment:  Gephardt’s loss in the presidential primaries.

Political hero:  Gephardt.  “Dick Gephardt was the finest public servant I’ve met in my life.  He’s a person who stood up for working people when it wasn’t a popular thing.  He remained grounded in who he was. Dick Gephardt was the perfect example of someone who played inside of the process but had in mind people who worked for a living. He’s the most decent human being I’ve ever been around in politics.  Others:  Robert F. Kennedy, John Lennon (“he was a prophet for peace”).  And, of course, his father, “The single smartest person I’ve met.”

Most important race:  U.S. Senate race in Missouri.  “The path forward for Republicans to control of the Senate has to go through Missouri.  Moving to extremist ridiculousness, the Republican Party has found its face in Todd Akin. Claire McCaskill is a moderate who’s done her best to reflect Missouri.  If she loses, the Senate will be controlled by Republicans.”

Underrated race:  Missouri Secretary of State. Jason Kander (D) vs. Shane Schoeller (R).  “Unfortunately,  we have a legislature that’s not addressing major needs, so we have well-financed, special interest groups putting issues on the ballot. The secretary of state drafts that ballot language.  I believe it’s important to have a secretary of state who accurately portrays the effect of the ballot measures.  There’s a lot of money on both sides put in that race recently.”

Overrated race:  Missouri attorney general.  “It’s been overhyped.  Chris Koster (D) has broad-based support;  Ed Martin (R) is showing the new face of the party in Missouri. He’s continued to be a radical, far-right extremist.  If Ed Martin and Todd Akin have a chance in Missouri, I’m not sure this is a state I want to live in.”

Biggest primary surprise:  Akin.  “Usually the candidate who has the most money wins.  Brunner was a strong candidate, but ads run by outside groups helped Akin win that race.”

Akin/McCaskill prediction:  “I think Claire wins.  Unfortunately it’s going to be much closer than it should be.  That’s reflective of the sad state of Missouri.”

But Kelley doesn’t think Missouri has turned permanently red.  “I don’t buy it,” he says.  “Democrats outperform Republicans in statewide elections. Unfortunately because of term limits and redistricting, the Republicans have drawn lines so Democrats are packed in urban areas.  Before 2008, Missouri was a targeted swing state in presidential elections.”  Why not now?  Race.  “If Barack Obama looked like me, he’d win Missouri.  Say what you want – it’s race.  That’s the sad reality.”

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

CLOUT: Conservative Talk Show Host Renee Hulshof Sees McCaskill Winning A Squeaker

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 rweiss@stlbeacon.org.

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:  Renee L. Hulshof

Party:  Republican

Age: 44

Job: Radio co-host, commentator, KFRU-AM in Columbia, Mo.

Twitter: @ReneeHulshof

Education: University of Missouri

Clout:  Hulshof began co-hosting a popular weekday Columbia morning radio show in January 2009, about the time her husband, Kenny Hulshof, was leaving Congress following an unsuccessful bid for governor (he lost to Jay Nixon). The counterpoint to the more liberal Simon Rose, Hulshof is conservative but not as strident as many other GOP broadcasters. Her influence stems from catering to a mid-Missouri sensibility that tends toward economic conservatism but with the sensitivity to social issues necessary in a university town. “I’m a Boone County Republican,” she says. Although pro-life, she adds,  “I  don’t walk around beating my chest on social issues. I believe in the big tent. I’d rather look for things within the party that unify us. Arguing social issues on a daily basis doesn’t get that done.  I hate name-calling.  That solves nothing.”

“I know I’ve done a good job when…: “People stop me around town to tell me what it was I said that day on the radio.  Either way, they were listening.” I love the freedom that my husband being out of politics gives me,” she says. (he’s now a public policy attorney in Kansas City and Washington).

Beyond November:  “So many states do not have their fiscal houses in order. Our country does not have its fiscal house in order. Regardless of who wins the White House, we cannot continue to have everything as it currently stands.  We have got to both raise revenue and cut expenses.  Someone in Washington is going to have to be the mom. We’ve been living on borrowed money for far too long.  Everybody’s been too timid about it.  That might mean a tax increase.  We cannot solve it simply by cutting everything down to the bone. You can’t solve it with one solution. There’s going to be much wailing and gnashing of teeth on all fronts.”

Biggest political disappointment: The 2008 governor’s race. “Kenny and I made the decision to step into that race given very little time.  In politics, timing is everything.  We picked the wrong time.  It was difficult to lose in that manner.  The primary was divisive, ugly.”

Political hero: “Anyone who has the guts and courage to put their name on the ballot.  Many people are content to hide behind their anonymity and snipe at people in public office. Very few people have the courage to put their name on the dotted line.”

Most important race: Presidential.  “We will either continue down the path we are on or we will see a change in that direction … It’s a fundamental difference in which direction this country will turn.” Also, the Senate race in Missouri. “It’s fascinating to watch.”

Underrated race: The race for the 4th Congressional district, where the lines were redrawn, pitting incumbent Republican Vicky Hartzler against Democrat Teresa Hensley. “I don’t think people have quite enough knowledge about that race.”

Biggest primary surprise: Senate Republican primary.  “I fully expected that John Brunner would pull that one out.  It was a surprise to me how that race went down.  Three-way way primaries are weird.”

Akin/McCaskill prediction:  “Senator McCaskill will end up winning, but it will be very close.  I think that in the polling data we’re not getting a  good feel for where they voters really are — they don’t want to tell people they’ll vote for Akin.”

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

CLOUT: Democratic Consultant Lee Brotherton Says GOP Is Run By ‘Most Extreme Elements’

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 rweiss@stlbeacon.org.

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: Lee Brotherton

Party: Democrat

Age: 54.

Job:  Director, Metropolitan Education and Training (MET) Center, a St. Louis County-operated facility in Wellston that helps low-income people with education and job training.

Education:  Boston University, Rutgers University

Clout:  Brotherton got his start in politics as an intern in the office of the late U.S. Rep. Robert Young.  He returned to St. Louis after graduate school and was part of the campaign team that elected Buzz Westfall as St. Louis County Executive in 1990, the first Democrat elected to the post is decades. After serving as Special Assistant and Director of Transportation and Environmental Policy for Westfall, Brotherton ran unsuccessfully for state senate, and since has been a consultant and adviser on many Democratic campaigns, most notably on behalf of Charlie Dooley, whose congressional campaign he ran in 2000 (Dooley lost in the primary to Lacy Clay). He was the Program Manager for Operation YouthBuild, a county Housing Authority program for at-risk kids until 2007, when he began his current duties as the MET director.  Although he’s not directly active in this fall’s campaigns, he continues to be an influential informal adviser to Democrats in the region.

I know I’ve done a good job when…: “I hear something from the opposition that confirms it.”

Beyond November: “At some point we’re going to have to have a national discussion about priorities, and not on the shallow level we’ve been seeing it.  The country has been sidetracked tremendously for a long time from taking care of our basic needs at home.  Roads and bridges are falling apart, education is underfunded, it’s starting to really show.  We need to get back on track.  That means the wealthy will have to pay a realistic share of the tax burden again.  We need a constitutional amendment to ban corporate money in politics.  It starts in Washington, but it goes down to local levels:  elected officials tend to respond to t hose who are most helpful to them.”

Biggest political disappointment: Ken Rothman’s loss to John Ashcroft for Missouri governor in 1984.  Brotherton worked on Rothman’s campaign.  “That was a sea change in Missouri politics.  That was Reagan’s big year.  It really took the wind out of our sails, and ever since we’ve been fighting to repair the damage.”

Political heroes: Harry Truman and Tom Eagleton. “Truman knew who he was and what he was for and he never apologized for it. Tom Eagleton was very much the same way.”

The (third) presidential debate:  “I think both achieved their goals. Romney is doing his chameleon act again so now he’s a moderate instead of the “severe” conservative’ he has claimed to be for the past two years.  That was their goal in order to bamboozle the remaining moderate undecided voters out there.  Obama also achieved his goal which was primarily not to lose the debate and by so doing halt Romney’s momentum.  I think he was successful in that and the President certainly had the best line, pointing out to Romney that we don’t have as many horses or bayonets as we did in 1916!  That was great.”

Most important race:  Akin/McCaskill.  “It’s a battle between a mainstream Democrat and an extreme right wing Republican.  That’s the real contrast.  People (like Akin) with those extremist views have no business representing people in the United States Senate because they represent such a narrow view.  The extreme right is so wacky at this point, it’s hard to say too much about it. These people are not living in the real world.  We live in the 21st century; nothing we do is going to return us to colonial times, when you could just  take a Bowie knife and head into the wilderness. The Republican Party in Missouri and in the country is being run by the most extreme elements, and it’s dangerous.

Akin/McCaskill prediction: “Hard to say.  Unfortunately, the Republican tactic of portraying extreme candidates as mainstream is fairly effective.  They do a good job of peddling that story for a few months.  It’s purely an exercise in marketing. When Akin and other right wingers tell the truth, that upsets the Republican (establishment) because it upsets their marketing.”


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

CLOUT: Gwen Reed, The Operative Who Helped Clay Crush Carnahan

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 rweiss@stlbeacon.org.

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:  Gwen Reed

Party: Democrat

Age: 68

Education:  University of Missouri

Clout: Reed was one of the first African-American teachers in the Hazelwood School District and retired in 1999 after 30 years of teaching.  She also worked for former U.S. Rep. Bill Clay for 25 years on a part time basis.  After both she and Clay retired, she went on to be an assistant campaign manager for Lacy Clay in 2000, and was a full time staffer for him, handling constituent services; she ran his most recent campaign, in which he defeated Rep. Russ Carnahan in the Democratic primary. In 2008, Reed was elected Democratic committeewoman in St. Louis County, and was re-elected to that post this year. She served as president of the St. Louis Community College Board for six years. She’s currently serving as vice chair of Congressional Awards Council of Missouri, a bipartisan board. And she’s been an informal advisor to untold other Democrats over the years.

Current campaign work:  Clay and Obama; she’s helping to coordinate a rally for Obama and other Democrats from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park, 2577 Redman Ave. in Florissant.

The (third) presidential debate:  “Is there another word for awesome? I was a delegate for (John) Kerry when Obama first came on the scene. When he spoke at 2004 convention, he was just awesome.”  It was not the Obama she saw in the first two debates, but Monday night, “That was the Obama that I remember.  He was focused, he was determined and he was forthright.  Everything he said was correct.  I’m so sorry Mitt Romney is on a different wavelength.  Obama gets it.”

I know I’ve done a good job (as a teacher) when  …: “I see my former students and they remember me and they’re all doing well.  When my kids would call me ‘Mom,’ even when I wasn’t their mom.”

I know I’ve done a good job (in politics) when …: “When Lacy Clay calls me every day and says, ‘Thank you.’”

Beyond November: “Education, that’s going to be at the forefront.  Pulling the kids’ scores up, getting students to understand, especially in the black community they must get engaged.  Education and jobs.”

Biggest political disappointment:  Losing the Democratic primary for St. Louis License Collector to Tom Nash.

Political heroes:  “My father.  He had me standing on the corner at five years old handing out literature.  He was my first introduction into politics. My husband (the late Helton Reed Jr.). Lacy, because he’s really a compassionate person. And Bill Clay.  He’s true to his word.”

Most important race: President.  “Because he’s the head of the nation.   We’ve got to get Gov. Nixon back, we’ve got to get Claire McCaskill back.”

Underrated race:  The presidential race in Missouri.  “I don’t see enough activity. I know the Obama campaign has written off Missouri, but it’s there for the taking if we work hard.”

Biggest primary surprise:  “I got more votes than any committeeperson in the county,” although she was running unopposed.

Akin/McCaskill prediction: “If we get up and do what we have to do, Claire has got to win this.  What would happen to Missouri if Akin goes to DC as a senator?  His values are not the values of my community.”


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

CLOUT: Republican Franc Flotron Stays Mum On Who He Supports In Senate Race

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 rweiss@stlbeacon.org.

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: Franc Flotron

Party: Republican

Age:  57

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 …”

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