Rep. Stacey Newman, Rep. Tishaura O. Jones with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Jeff City roomies state Rep. Stacey Newman and state Rep. Tishaura O. Jones with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Florida’s 20th district.

In better days for him as a candidate, Peter Kinder often told the EYE that The American should consider endorsing Republicans. Kinder – who, whatever his flaws, unlike most statewide elected officials seems to love St. Louis and is willing to show up in the black community here – accused the black media and black voters of giving away their loyalty to the Democratic Party while getting little in return.

He’d make the same point more generally about all voters in St. Louis, a Democratic stronghold. At that time Kinder thought his next opponent would be Gov. Jay Nixon, a conservative Democrat, rather than Tom, Dick and Harry in the Republican primary to retain his seat as Lieutenant Governor. So Kinder laid into Nixon. He’d say, “You give away your vote to Jay Nixon, so he doesn’t have to work in St. Louis, and so then he doesn’t work in St. Louis, and so you give away your vote and get nothing in return.”

Kinder’s personal conduct has since toasted him as gubernatorial material. Into the Republican void stepped Dave Spence, a St. Louis-area businessman who made his money manufacturing plastic containers for vitamins and pharmaceuticals in a non-union shop in Overland. Spence is largely self-funding his gubernatorial bid, as rich men and women (hello, Susan Montee) have the luxury of doing, until national money comes along.

National money will come along. Spence is totally sold on the national GOP priorities of passing voter photo ID laws and reforming workplace legislation to cap limits on damages and make it more difficult to win suits based on civil rights complaints.

Spence will defend these Republican stances until he is red in the face. The EYE speaks from experience, because Spence came into The American and defended these stances until he was red in the face.

Spence seemed to be hearing for the first time that voter photo ID laws would address zero (0) voter fraud cases on record in Missouri. He got red in the face and asked if we would deny there is voter fraud? Spence was told there was all the voter fraud anybody can get away with in either party – of course – but none of the sort that would be fixed by requiring voters to show state-issued photo ID before they can vote. All that requirement does is exclude people who don’t have such IDs, and such people tend to fall into demographics – black folks, especially older black folks, college students, the disabled, the poor, and other people who don’t drive – that vote very heavily Democratic.

Spence, a businessman rather than a political professional, really seemed to be hearing for the first time that he was defending a partisan disenfranchisement tactic rather than a legitimate approach to defusing established voter fraud. The naiveté was startling.

Without further coaching, Spence, tone deaf, is not ready for prime time among black voters. Another example makes the point even better.

Spence had been complaining that peripheral issues about him that made no difference were getting all the media play. He was told that was a fact he would have to live with and address now, because misinformation has weight and power in electoral campaigns. To make a point about misinformation, the publisher asked the candidate, “Is Barack Obama a Muslim?”

Unbelievably, Spence said, “I don’t know.”

At that point, the candidate interview essentially was over, and (sorry to tip our hand in April, Peter Kinder) Spence had spent whatever credibility he had for any consideration for an endorsement from The American. Barack Obama, as anyone knows who follows the news, is a church-going Baptist (albeit one with what Obama himself calls a “funny name”). His Christian affiliation and church attendance have been covered by the media about as much, or little, as the church attendance of his predecessor in the White House, a white Republican with an ordinary name who was never accused of being a Muslim.

Is George W. Bush a Muslim? It’s the same question – or should be.

Again, the naiveté was amazing. Spence spent the rest of his earnest, but futile candidate interview explaining why it didn’t matter whether or not Obama was Muslim, and why it didn’t matter whether or not he thought Obama was a Muslim, in terms of whether or not he should be the Governor of Missouri. He could never grasp the plain fact that he had just shown deference to a highly offensive, code-word-loaded piece of partisan nonsense in the wrong house.

Political outsiders can be charming, until they’re not.

And this is a shame. Because Kinder was right: Jay Nixon and Missouri Democrats should have to work much harder than they do to get votes from black people, as well as other St. Louisans.

And Spence has developed some stinging criticisms of Nixon in relation to St. Louis (and economic development generally) that deserve to be heard. Spence says Nixon plays politics over policy, underplays the economic value and potential of St. Louis, and doesn’t think there any good ideas unless they are his ideas. There are a lot of smart, powerful people in St. Louis who would agree on all of these points. They would all very much like to see someone who thinks the way they think on these matters to offer a serious challenge to Jay Nixon at the ballot box.

And they don’t have a candidate. Peter Kinder wasn’t the guy, and Dave Spence isn’t the guy.

EYE drops

Russ Carnahan has become the Energizer Bunny of North County. Ever since he decided to run against Wm. Lacy Clay in Clay’s home district, which stretches far north of anywhere Carnahan has ever lived or represented, Russ’ GPS always seems to be tilted north. He even has been seen to read from his Bible at a public event, a new addition to his political playbook. A play for connection to the strong faith beliefs of the black community.

Advocates for the Redditt Hudson campaign for state Senate say the EYE overstates the power of North County Labor that supports Gina Walsh, a veteran state rep Hudson faces on the ballot. The demographic numbers favor an African American candidate – Redditt just needs to make sure they go out and vote in the August primary. Congressman Clay should remember those same folks will vote for him too and give the veteran progressive battler a hand.

Jeanette Mott Oxford spells her name with one N and not two, as the EYE had it last week. Robin may not be lazy, Jamilah may not be crazy and Jeanette may not be ineffective, but the EYE sure can’t spell.

A birdy tells the EYE that Aerotropolis will be back under a new name, drastically downsized and touted as a Chamber of Commerce project with Gov. Jay Nixon as its lead cheerleader. Since this would be Jay’s idea, Jay will think it is a good idea. Nixon was at best MIA on Aerotropolis when vice premieres were at the table – at the table in St. Louis – and it could have been truly transformative.

Money Money Money

The second quarter campaign reports for Senator Robin Wright Jones show that her campaign committee has twelve dollars and thirty cents ($12.30) on hand to conduct her campaign for reelection. Her opponent State Representative Jamilah Nasheed reported having $36,412.10 on hand. Her other opponent State Representative Jeanette Mott Oxford reported having $21,345.00 on hand. Senator Jones cannot expect anyone to consider her as a serious candidate when she does not have enough to hold a coffee klatch.

Jones continues to impress

At the city treasurer forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters last week, the overwhelming consensus is that State Rep. Tishaura Jones was the most impressive of all the candidates. Jones platform of reform and change was big contrast to the stay the course agenda of the other candidates.

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