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(left to right) Bill Richardson, Jim Jackson – the Democratic candidate in the 121st Legislative District, Carla Keough – the Democratic candidate in the 125th Legislative District.

Missouri State Senator Victor Callahan (D).

The “40 Club”, a luncheon meeting of like minded labor activists, political operatives, candidates, and office holders, met today at the Sheetmetal Workers hall in Kansas City. Everyone who shows up to the event greets and visits with everyone else. After the lunch Bill Richardson, the master of ceremonies, had everyone in attendance introduce themselves and state their affiliations (Yes, I did, too. In case you’re wondering: Show Me Progress and the American Federation of Musicians). The featured speaker was Missouri State Senator Victor Callahan (D):

…I also wanted to thank everybody who was there at the Nixon unity rally last week. It was a very good event. Something wonderful happened to the Republican Party in August…Something wonderful happened to the Republican party in August. They had a very contentious governor’s primary. And they actually have made a mistake in their game, they, they took a play that we usually have in our party. Which is that we have a contentious primary. They had a very contentious primary. And they created a lot of divisions in their party. And so I believe that the, that we have a tremendous opportunity in this nation and in this state to change the landscape politically forever…

Bill Richardson as master of ceremonies.

[Senator Victor Callahan]…and I believe that that starts with President Obama. It goes to Governor Jay Nixon. It goes to Attorney General Chris Koster. Sam Page. Paul LeVota, the Speaker of the House. All these, by electing all these house members. That’s how you change the state. You elect Chris Benjamin to the senate. You start to change that. And I think we’re at a moment in time when that can happen.

Now, what did we learn in August that might help us? One was, a contentious un-unified party doesn’t do as well. We certainly learned that in this party in 2004 when we had a governor’s primary.

They had a governor’s primary. We didn’t have a governor’s primary. So, at the local level, whether it’s in Jackson County, whether it’s in the state, I know that we have many passionate people…we learned from that, that, that our party has contentious primaries because we have passionate people who believe in candidates. And I’m so happy to see what an individual John Bullard [an unsuccessful candidate in the primary for Jackson County Sheriff] is today to, to remember after an election, that he wasn’t successful in, to come back and thank everybody. I just think that is…[applause][cheers]…John gets it. And we can’t have fights. maybe somebody supported Jeff Harris. Maybe somebody supported Margaret Donnelly.

We had a primary. We decided it. It’s time to move on. It’s time to move on in Jackson County, it’s time to move on in our state. We can win. And the only thing that is going to mess that up is if we carry on battles that were settled last Tuesday.

It’s time for unity. It’s time to move on. And it’s time to change the landscape of our state. And we are at a moment that only comes around every once in a while.

We have the other party have a contentious, vicious primary. They’re mad about that stuff and they’re not gonna get over it. We can. And we can if we all make the decision to move us all forward. Now, what’s at stake is, I would ask the question that, that Ronald Reagan once asked somebody in a debate, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” [voice: “No!”] And I don’t think anybody in this room can say, “Yes” to that question.

We are in a moment of change. We are at a desire for change. People want to reverse the course of how this country is going, internationally, at the national level, and at the state level. We’ve seen what they did to education, we’ve seen what they did to the rights of workers, we’ve seen what they’re about. They might have been able to fool people in previous elections and get ’em distracted with guns and abortion. But I don’t think it’s gonna work this time. Because I think they finally see what they’re really about.

And one of the things that I’ve seen in the senate is, and of course there doesn’t get much media attention about this, is, you’ve heard their message, “we’ve got to cap this government entitlements like Medicaid. You know, there are just too many poor and disabled and elderly people who need health care. Those pesky people that need health care. [laughter] we’ve got to control those government entitlements.” So what did they do? They slashed education, they capped those entitlements for health care for our fellow Missourians. And what did they do with the money? Did they give us a tax cut? No. Did they do something to make gas cheaper? No. Did they do anything with that money? Oh, they created another entitlement for big business. Called tax credits. They took one billion dollars from this side of the ledger that went to education and health care, and created a big business entitlement called tax credits. You as Missouri taxpayers spend eight hundred million dollars a year in tax credits. For big business. That’s guys picking, “Oh, let’s make sure Andy Blunt has an ethanol plant. Oh, let’s give him a tax credit.” We created a mandate on ethanol, but that’s not enough, let’s create a tax credit for him, too. And you don’t read about that in the media, but that’s all that happened. That’s really about what they’re about.

Maybe people are finally getting that when they go to the gas pump and they see all these things happening. That we’ve just taken one billion dollars from this side of the ledger to one billion dollars here for their friends, for their buddies. Tax credits for sausage casings [laughter], tax credits for this, tax credits for that. Thta is really the issue that, that, you know, needs to be talked about. Which is, what are they about, and who are we?

And we need in this process of unity to define what we are about. And that begins with us coming together as a party in a united front. And I urge everybody in this room, from Jackson County to the state to our nation to bring everyone together in this party. Now is our moment. Do we really want President McCain? Governor Huslhof? Do we want to go through another four years of the eight years that we’ve gone through?

So my message today is, take a page from John Bullard, it’s time to move us forward. Thank you very much. [applause]


Juan Alonzo, the Democratic candidate in the 123rd Legislative District.

Chris Benjamin, the Democratic candidate in the 31st Senate District.