In Democratic primaries, I, like many other elected officials, take a cautious approach to endorsing one Democrat over another. It doesn’t take long in politics to learn that you have to work with whoever wins, and it can be unfortunate if hurt feelings related to a primary get in the way of cooperation at a time that matters.

However, as a long-time social justice advocate, I also know there are times to stand up and be counted. Therefore I drafted endorsement principles for myself, and ask myself the following questions when deciding where and when to endorse:

– What has been the political history of the candidate who is seeking my endorsement? What legislation has she/he sponsored if previously in office? Do he/she have a reputation for honesty, transparency, and keeping commitments made to others?

– Does the candidate have a history of social justice activism or public policy advocacy for the common good?

– Has the candidate worked to get social justice advocates elected?

– Will the candidate’s presence in the House enrich our diversity by adding a voice from an under-represented category of citizens (women, People of Color, LGBT citizens, religious minorities, etc.)?

– Is the candidate working hard and making good use of low-cost grassroots campaign methods?

– Is the candidate’s opponent someone who has a particularly appalling track record?

Sometimes reflection on these principles leads me to remain neutral. For example, in the Democratic primary for the 67th House District, candidates include an openly gay man, a woman who has won awards from pro-choice organizations, and a man with whom I have worked on public education issues. I have been willing to meet with any candidate in this race that asks and to answer questions and offer suggestions, but I am not endorsing one candidate over another.

But in other cases, reflection leads me to endorse a particular candidate, and in the Democratic primary for Attorney General, I have decided to endorse Margaret Donnelly.

I have watched Margaret in action since her election in 2002, and I have served with her in the House since 2005. During that time, I have noted her expertise on budgetary issues, family law, social welfare policy, childcare/early childhood education, and a wide variety of other topics. As a member of the House Special Committee on Family Services, I have often gone to Margaret with a question about a bill on our hearing calendar, and she has always offered me helpful and sound advice. She has a balance of wisdom, toughness, compassion, and courage that I believe makes her an exceptional leader.

Margaret is a very hard worker. During my first years in Jefferson City, Margaret and I rented apartments in the same building. I am known for my long days at the Capitol, often arriving by 8 a.m. and staying until after 10 p.m. Yet I consistently found Margaret still on the job after I called it a night, and she usually was back at the office before me the next morning as well. (And she managed to take a run early in the morning and get some physical exercise too on some of those days – which I admire a lot.)

In past years, I have constantly found Margaret working in the same social justice campaigns that matter to me. She is determined to see healthcare restored to the almost 200,000 Missourians who lost coverage under Gov. Blunt. She has worked for progressive women candidates through the National Women’s Political Caucus and other groups, and she has been an ally on LGBT civil rights issues.

As to the question of an opponent with an appalling track record, I hasten to say that I find Jeff Harris to be a fine man. He worked hard as Minority Floor Leader, and we have similar voting records on most issues. I do, however, have a problem with Chris Koster’s voting record as well as some of the campaign finance wheeling and dealing in which his campaign participates.

But working so closely for so long with Margaret in advocacy for children, in opposing measures that would deepen poverty and foster inequality between men and women, has led me to offer her my public endorsement and my strong support. I believe she will be a vigilant champion for Missouri citizens, protecting consumers and the environment. She will see that the policies of the AG’s office match principles of good government, including strict compliance with the Sunshine Law.

We have the chance to shatter yet another glass ceiling in this year’s AG race: Margaret can become Missouri’s first woman Attorney General, and I believe she will be a great one. I invite you to join me in offering your support.