St. Charles County has a district we stand a decent chance of flipping. HD 15 is one of those fickle districts that shifts from party to party every four to six years. And we’re due. Sally Faith sneaked by the incumbent Democrat, Tom Green, in 2004 by one percentage point. Green was a little too complacent, and once she got the seat, he couldn’t get it back in ’06. But two factors work against her this go round.

The first is that she let the cat out of the bag when a Post-Dispatch reporter asked her, near the end of August, if she planned to run for mayor of St. Charles. She admitted she was. I can see her reason to file for the mayoral race: this is her last term in the House and she doesn’t want any gap in pay checks. She could challenge the current Republican mayor in a primary next February, and if she loses, what the hey, she’s still got her House seat to fall back on.

That’s all well and good for her, but the voters might resent a candidate who could well cost them a special election for the House seat just months after the general. In fact, St. Charles County has had a lot of premature departures and special elections in the last few years: two state senators, two state reps, and two city council members have left early, and voters might be getting weary of the pattern.

Okay, that’s the first factor working against Faith. The second factor is her opponent: a young, well spoken lawyer named Paul Woody. He’s been knocking those doors, and he tells me that residents are pleased to see someone who’ll do so. Many haven’t seen a state rep candidate at their door for a decade or more.

He’s been surprised as he talks to voters to find that one of the issues that resonates with them is ethics reform. He wants campaign finance limits reinstated and wants to see it illegal for legislators to work simultaneously as lobbyists.

Aside from ethics issues, Woody sees Republicans as simply ineffective at governing. He’s shocked that the Republicans didn’t pass a single jobs bill last year. At a bare minimum, for example, they should have passed a law saying that companies that receive tax breaks, then use the money to upgrade and move out of state, be required to repay the tax breaks with interest. Also on the jobs issue, he feels that the state should punish out of state construction companies if they use illegal workers. That’s a much better tactic to preserve jobs here than denying rental units and health care to illegal immigrants.

Before Woody went to law school, he worked in Governor Holden’s office. At the time, he saw unemployment problems in the state, saw that education was inadequately funded, and saw the friction over tight budgets. Now, nine years later, he sees all those same problems in spades, with budget holes we cannot fill. “It seems all we’ve accomplished in nine years is to eliminate health care for 100,000 Missourians.”

If this is the year of discontent among voters, Woody believes that their ire should extend to the Republican majorities in our state legislature. And to Sally Faith.