Temporiti’s speech to the West County Democrats concluded with remarks about primary contests and super delegates.

Although he concedes any Democrat’s right to run in a given contest, he really, really dislikes contested primaries and works to get the candidate most likely to win running uncontested. And he’s quick to point out that he talks to the parties involved with great empathy because he’s been there. In 1988, when Dick Gephardt tried for the Democratic presidential nomination, Temporiti ran for Gephardt’s seat. Seven months into that campaign, Gephardt withdrew from the presidential race and asked Temporiti to drop out of the race for the third congressional seat. Which Temporiti did–“for the good of the party.”

Sure, a contested primary can gain the eventual winner more name recognition, but it can also cost an extra four or five million dollars in, say, a gubernatorial race. Oh how he’d love to see Steelman and Hulshof knock each other around and spend wads of cash these next five months.

And speaking of that race, having Blunt withdraw is huge. Temporiti believes we’d have beaten Blunt, but it would have been close. Beating Hulshof or Steelman will be easier.

Given the state chairman’s philosophy about contested primaries, it’s safe to assume he’ll be discussing the race in the second congressional district, Todd Akin’s seat, with the three candidates involved: Mike Garman, Byron DeLear, and David Pentland. Temporiti knows he can’t order anyone to drop out, but he does, in these situations, ask each one to consider how well he fits the voter profile in that district, what kind of financial backing he has, how hard his supporters will work for him, and what his own goals in politics are.

Someone in the audience asked what he thought of our chances in that race. “As good as I’ve ever seen it,” he said with a big smile.

Let me interject here that 58 percent of the ballots cast in St. Charles County were Democratic, and 54 percent in Lincoln County were. If those figures hold for next November, the eventual nominee would have to take 44 percent of the vote in West St. Louis County to win. That won’t be an easy feat. In 2006, George “Boots” Weber only got 36.6 percent of the vote in the whole district–and presumably much less than 36 percent in West County. Even taking into account that Weber was a weak candidate, it will still take good funding, super hard campaigning, and a good sized dollop of luck to make 44 percent of the West County vote end up in the Dem column.

Good luck, Mr. Temporiti, in winnowing that field to the strongest candidate. Akin needs to be history.

As a super delegate, Temporiti had some comments to make about his plans in that role. Missouri has sixteen super delegates. Ten of them are committed: five for Clinton, five for Obama. Temporiti has not committed himself and says it’s kind of fun getting phone calls from the likes of Bill Clinton. But he won’t make up his mind right away. He’ll base the decision on which way Missouri is going (it’s so even that this guideline is almost moot), on which one he thinks can beat McCain, and–very important–on getting something for Missouri from his vote. Specifically,  he will be looking for an assurance that the nominee will not pull out of Missouri early as Kerry did. Temporiti’s take on ’04 is that our state ended up with four years of Matt Blunt because Kerry pulled out.

My impression from scattered comments after the speech, was that most of the audience appreciated Temporiti’s pragmatic approach to politics. I do, when it comes to his urging the candidates least likely to win the general election into withdrawing early.

I even grudgingly admit that it does us little good to run only pro-choice candidates if that means we don’t end up in control of the House or the Senate. After all, if we win the House, the issue of abortion doesn’t even come up because the speaker doesn’t allow it to. But if we’re pure as the driven snow on this issue, run only pro-choice candidates, and lose the House, that’s when we get bombarded with some of the lunatic bills on abortion that are being introduced this session.

So far, so good. But I found myself disagreeing with the state chairman on an issue where he assumed unanimous agreement: he is vastly proud of Missouri for, as he puts it, taking control of the U.S. Senate. If Claire McCaskill hadn’t won in Missouri, we wouldn’t have the majority in the Senate. That’s true, of course, and naturally I’d rather have McCaskill than Talent, most of the time anyway. But her recent FISA betrayal would have done Jim Talent proud. McCaskill is a mixed blessing.

Oh well, the state party is hardly going to put someone in charge who would badmouth the party’s top elected official. Still, it would have been refreshing to hear Mr. Temporiti admit that she crossed a line when she refused to uphold the Constitution.

Update: It turns out there are four candidates in the Second Congressional District. Bill Haas is also running–as he so often does, for various offices. (And he’s a perennial candidate for mayor of St. Louis.) He doesn’t live in the second, but that’s not required for a person to run. If he were to win, he’d have to move there to serve.