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St. Louis American election endorsements

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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2012 12:08 am

Wm. Lacy Clay for U.S. Congress

Though a spirited electoral challenge can spur a serious public conversation about policy, the incumbent in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay, should never have faced this particular Democratic primary challenge from Russ Carnahan, who was left with a clear Republican majority in the 3rd Congressional District in the new map of congressional districts mandated by the Republican-controlled state Legislature following the 2010 Census.

Despite population losses in St. Louis, city and county, we joined Carnahan in arguing for a district map that preserved three congressional districts for the St. Louis metropolitan area, with two of those districts that could be winnable for a Democrat. This map would have been better for citizens of this region, for Democrats and for citizens of the state, who vote roughly as Democrat in statewide elections as they vote Republican; in fact, Democrats hold more statewide seats (five) than do Republicans (three). But the Republican super-majority in the Legislature had its way, even against an attempted veto by Missouri’s Democrat Governor Jay Nixon; and Carnahan was left with a 3rd Congressional District he could not plausibly win as a Democrat.

Despite Carnahan’s repeated campaign claim that Clay conspired with Republicans to eliminate his district, in fact both Clay and U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus from Kansas City, issued a joint statement with Carnahan rejecting the Republican redistricting map.

Carnahan made a feint to run in the new 2nd Congressional District, an open seat with a smaller Republican majority after redistricting. Until October 2011, Carnahan was listed on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Frontline” list to support Democrats on the front lines of winning new Democrat seats. Instead of taking that bullet for the Democrats, Carnahan did an about face and filed in Missouri’s only majority-minority district, which in St. Louis has historically been the center of black political power: Missouri’s 1st Congressional District. Instead of joining the front line of Democrat attack on Republican majorities in Missouri and the Congress overall, Carnahan opened fire on his own. He is running a nasty attack campaign against a former friend and colleague whose father, the legendary Congressman Bill Clay, was instrumental in building the Carnahan political brand by establishing critical minority support in the election of Mel Carnahan as Missouri Governor.

Missouri will have these new boundaries for the 1st Congressional District for at least the next 10 years. It covers all of the City of St. Louis, which is an increasingly racially mixed city. There no longer is a racial majority in the city (African Americans now represent a plurality, with 49.2 percent of city residents), and moreover black folks are moving steadily south. The 1st Congressional District embodied by Bill Clay Sr. will one day be a relic of history, and – unbelievably as it may seem to older people – St. Louis as a bitterly segregated city, divided by north and south geography, is less of a fact every day. But those of us who believe in the value of consolidated political power for African Americans – and the critical role of black turnout to the electoral fortunes of all statewide Democrats in states like Missouri – believe strongly that 2012 was the wrong time for Carnahan to challenge Congressman Clay and to do it in such a negative, frequently deceptive way. Among his many deceptions, Carnahan posted an old St. Louis American endorsement for him as 3rd Congressional District representative in the heat of this campaign, an obvious attempt to confuse voters about where we stand.

Where we stand is clear, and it is not with Russ Carnahan. While he has every right to run, this is a misadventure for him and his party. We stand with Wm. Lacy Clay, the Congressman tied for the single most liberal vote in all of the Congress, according to the National Journal (Carnahan trailed at No. 139, a consequence of votes like his support for the Patriot Act and opposition to a measure to withdraw combat troops). This ranking confirms that Clay has been a better vote for our community overall than Carnahan. We also see a much larger picture in 2012 than the choice between two Democrat congressmen lumped in the same district. We see looming a fierce battle for the presidency and a critical U.S. Senate seat in Missouri. Further, we feel strongly about the role of our community for those incumbents seeking reelection. President Obama will likely have little chance to win Missouri, but Senator McCaskill’s only chance is for an exceptionally strong turnout in Democratic strongholds led by the party’s most loyal political bloc, African Americans. Carnahan’s attack on Clay has put that in serious danger, and the best way to undo the damage already done is to have Clay on the ballot with McCaskill in November. We strongly endorse WM. LACY CLAY FOR U.S. CONGRESS IN MISSOURI’S 1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT.

 

Judy Baker for Lieutenant Governor

Missouri’s incumbent Republican Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is locked in a bitter, costly primary fight, as his star in conservative circles was tarnished by an embarrassing personal episode that shed new light on why he enjoys the City of St. Louis so much. Missouri Democrats need a strong candidate to contend against the Republican nominee, and we think Democrats have an excellent contender for Lt. Governor in Judy Baker.

To run for statewide office, Baker left a critical position in the Obama administration as a Midwest regional director in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Speaking of “front lines,” Baker hit the campaign trail straight from the front lines of administering the Affordable Care Act, the crowning legislative achievement of Obama’s first term, though Republicans have demonized the legislation so well that few Democrats are willing to claim it as a victory. Baker is running for the office because the duties of the Lt. Governor accord with her health-care and administrative background. The Lt. Governor is involved in policy decisions on issues effecting seniors, veterans, housing development and the health needs of minority seniors by sitting on several boards and commissions. Baker intends to make sure the priorities in these commissions are integrated and cohesive. “One of those priorities,” she says, “is: how do we deliver community-based services that increase the quality of people’s lives and lower the cost overall?”

This is entirely in keeping with the intent of the Affordable Care Act, which Baker has administered in Missouri and other Midwestern states. Crucially, the ACA gives Missouri and other states the opportunity to take or leave $8.5 billion to expand Medicaid over five years and add hundreds of thousands of people to the program. Baker sees both the public-health value of expanding coverage for low-income communities and the plain fact that an infusion of federal funds will save and create health care jobs in Missouri. This state direly needs a statewide elected official able to forcefully speak such plain, important truths. It also needs a candidate for Lt. Governor that can win statewide – which we do not believe the other seven Democrat candidates, including a former State Auditor who was defeated statewide as recently as 2010, can do. Because we believe she is the superior candidate, we strongly endorse JUDY BAKER FOR LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR.

 

Redditt Hudson for State Senator

We admire Redditt Hudson greatly for taking a long series of courageous public stands on nearly every issue of concern for our community: minority inclusion in economic opportunity, equal civil rights under the law, scrutiny of police conduct and conditions in city jails, as well as more personal cases involving embattled Fire Chief Sherman George and Missouri death row inmate Reginald Clemons. Our only hesitation in encouraging his campaign for elected office is a concern that his courage and toughness might be better served at the American Civil Liberties Union, where he has battled for our community for years, than in the Missouri Legislature, where a true progressive risks becoming useless and irrelevant if he does not learn the art of compromise. We also have been concerned to see him run for the very difficult office of state Senate in a primary against a veteran state representative with far more experience building electoral coalitions. But Hudson is working hard to win this difficult election, and he deserves the strong support of our community. We strongly endorse REDDITT HUDSON FOR MISSOURI SENATE, 13TH DISTRICT.

 

We also endorse: Steve Webb for Missouri House, 67th District; Tracy McCreery for Missouri House, 71st District; Doug Clemens for Missouri House, 73rd District; Sharon L. Pace for Missouri House, 74th District; Kim Gardner for Missouri House, 77th District; and Stacey Newman for Missouri House, 87th District.

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