Democrats in the city of St. Louis and in the fifth senatorial district in particular are fighting each other. Rodney Hubbard and Robin Wright-Jones are duking it out for the senatorial nomination, which is to say, for the whole ball of wax in the fifth, because no Republican has filed. (Why would one bother in the city?)
Robin is progressive right down the line. Rodney is … not. I’ll skip all the gossip about parking space and office space and who hangs with whom in the capitol, in favor of focusing on money, issues, and accomplishments.
From 2007 to the present, Rodney accepted $38,000 from Republican billionaire Rex Sinquefield. And what did Mr. Sinquefield get for his money? He got Rodney’s vote in favor of vouchers and another in favor of lifting campaign contribution limits. Rodney will tell you that he’d have voted that way in any case, that those were votes of conscience.
That may be. But they’re not votes we expect from a Democrat. Nor are they the only votes that should concern progressives. Starting with Rodney’s vote to sell off MOHELA assets in 2007, ProVote lists several troubling stands in his record.
In fact, his record is so troubling that ALEC named Hubbard one of four legislators of the year in 2007. And why would an award for being a good legislator be troubling? Click over to the ALEC site and see for yourself, from Bush’s grinning mug all over the front page through photos of Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich. When you reach page nine, you’ll see a picture of Rodney with the other three award winners for that year and you can read why ALEC chose him:
Rep. Hubbard voted for Tort Reform, Workers’ Compensation reform, and a Quality Jobs Act. He also helped develop and co-sponsor the Milton Friedman Put Parents in Charge Act.
Whaddaya know, those are some of the very votes Pro-Vote rated negatively.
Despite Perhaps because of his unprogressive attitudes, Hubbard has been raking in the campaign contributions–not just from Sinquefield but also from developer Paul McKee (more on his eminent domain grabs within the week) and from supporters of Mayor Slay. So far, Rodney’s taken in $291,000 for this election and spent $141,000 (versus Robin’s $62,000 taken in and $33,000 spent). To give him his due, he is also a hard worker and a smart campaigner.
The heart of his campaign is his claim that he brings home the bacon for his district. This year the legislature appropriated $2 million for a re-entry program to help ex-convicts find jobs. Rodney issued a press release claiming the credit for getting that passed. Of course, Jamilah Nasheed, who was on the Budget Committee that it went through, also issued a press release claiming credit.
Considering the competing press releases, it’s not easy to say who deserves the credit. (And by the way, Margaret Donnelly, a member of the Budget Committee, also begged for the funds.) But Rodney’s claim is bolstered by Allen Icet, the Republican Chair of the Budget Committee, who asserted that the funds were in because Rodney had asked for them–and, by the way, that Democrats shouldn’t ask for anything else.
Sounds like that settles it. Icet ought to know whose entreaty swayed him. Except … I wonder why Icet did Rodney such a favor. Was it Hubbard’s winning personality? Or was it that Icet wanted to boost Rodney’s chances in this election so that the Republicans would have an ally in the Senate for the next four years?
Whatever the case, other than the re-entry bill, Rodney’s legislative accomplishments are slim. This year for example, only one bill that he co-sponsored passed. That bill, HB2058, was an economic stimulus package with … wait for it … 102 bi-partisan co-sponsors. Along with the sponsor, then, Hubbard gets 1/103rd of the credit.
He can rightly claim some power in the legislature, however. Of the 63 House committees, only three are headed by Democrats: T.D. El-Amin is Vice Chair of the Special Committee on Urban Issues, Ted Hoskins (another African-American beneficiary of Sinquefield money and proponent of the voucher system) chairs the Special Committee on Urban Education Reforms, and Rodney Hubbard chairs the Special Committee on Urban Issues.
Rodney Hubbard, then, has obtained some power in the Republican-controlled House even though he’s a member of the minority party, but one is hard pressed to see how he has used it to benefit his community. The re-entry program might be mostly his doing. Beyond that … he gets a shrug. And a rap on the knuckles for voting to lift campaign finance limits and voting for vouchers.
But don’t let my emphasis on those votes and on his ALEC award mislead you, because even when you take that downside into consideration, Rodney still got an 87 percent positive rating from Pro-Vote (to Robin’s 100 percent rating). He is a Democrat. Mostly.