Crossposted from Washington Monthly
It was an interesting night in the Show-Me-State. There were races where the vote was just a formality and others where a candidate ran unopposed, but there were also hard-fought battles. Quite a few races were called within an hour of the polls closing, and the results of most were known within two hours, but then there were the nail-biters, too. Those were the ones that had me consuming mass quantities of caffeine and staying up way past my bedtime on a school night.
Claire McCaskill was unopposed on the Democratic side, while on the GOP ticket it was a banquet of crazy and one of those nail-biters I was just talking about. I like to think that Claire did the Dance of Joy until she dropped from sheer exhaustion when it became clear that her opponent would be Todd Akin, the most chock-full-o-nuts wingnut in a three-wingnut race. The rest of us just heaved a sigh of relief that Sarah Steelman lost so we don’t have to put up with any more visits from Caribou Barbie: Fashion Offender. If Steelman had pulled it out, Sister Sarah and her hideous wardrobe would have campaigned with Steelman so much over the next three months that she would have gotten her mail here.
In the newly-redrawn Missouri First, two Democratic incumbents – Lacy Clay and Russ Carnahan – fought a bitter and acrimonious battle. I’m a big enough person to admit to my character flaws, so I confess: It was the sort of race I love to watch Republicans engage in, but I get an “11th Commandment” bee in my bonnet about it when Democrats do it. In the end, when the votes were counted, it was Lacy Clay by a landslide. He pulled a whopping 63.2 percent to Carnahan’s 34 percent. Clay will face Republican sacrificial lamb Robin Hamlin in November in a district where Republicans could apply for endangered species protection if they believed in such a thing.
In the Governor’s races, we knew the results early. The incumbent Democrat Jay Nixon will face off against St. Louis businessman Republican Dave Spence in the general election. Spence will run on his business experience – he built a company that makes plastic packaging – with the help of the taxpayers who built the infrastructure so his products could be delivered to the manufacturers of the products that went in his packaging, of course, but we won’t hear that part; we will only hear about the 800 jobs he created, and we will hear about them ad nauseum. For their part, the Missouri Democratic Party and the Nixon campaign will hammer him mercilessly for his ties to a bank that got TARP funds, starting in 3…2…1… Nixon will win easily in November barring some horrific scandal – a notion that makes everyone familiar with him collapse in side-splitting laughter. The guy is the straightest arrow in the quiver.
The Lt. Governor’s races split the difference in drama and suspense – On the Democratic side, Susan Montee leaped out of the gate and ran away with it. She won easily and it was called early. That was not a surprise, she had the name recognition because she was the only candidate in the race who had not only run statewide in the past, but won, serving as our State Auditor from 2007-2011. On the GOP side, it went back and forth for hours, but the hapless incumbent, Peter-the-Tweeter Kinder finally managed to squeak by and pull out the narrowest of victories, winning by only about 1500 votes. Susan is a tireless campaigner and anything but hapless. And since she has never embarrassed the entire state with offensive Tweets, attended pantsless parties in a notorious nightclub, stayed in luxury hotels and billed the taxpayers and (not or — and) left her keys in her car and had it stolen and torched, she should make short work of him in November.
In the Attorney General’s race the powerful and popular Democrat Chris Koster was unopposed. He will face perennial loser and former Matt Blunt Chief-of-Staff Ed Martin. We can just go ahead and call November for Koster now. Ed Martin won because he had name recognition over the much better candidate, Adam Lee Warren, the Prosecuting Attorney in rural Livingston County. The problem for Martin is that between now and November people are going to remember why they recognized his name and vote for the Democrat who used to be a Republican before the GOP went insane.
In the Secretary of State races, the Democratic race was a forgone conclusion. We knew that Jason Kander was our nominee as soon as he announced, and the race was called before dark. But on the Republican side I was still hitting “refresh” every couple of minutes well past midnight. Finally, at about 1:15 I looked at the numbers – 99% of precincts reporting and a 4500 vote spread – then I remembered that I’ve had several Statistics classes, said “D’oh” and took it upon myself to call it for Shane Schoeller. This is an office that Democrats have to hold if we ever want to win another statewide election, and I’m not exaggerating. Schoeller will run a slash-and-burn campaign and if he wins, he will give Kansas’ infamous Secretary of State Kris Kobach a run for his money in the “Most Rabid Wingnut” category when it comes to innovative and novel approaches to voter suppression. But if anyone can hold that seat for the Democrats, it’s Kander. He’s a tireless campaigner, and he has a record to run on because he has managed to get some really good legislation passed in his time in the General Assembly in spite of being in a vastly-outnumbered minority. He is also an officer in the Missouri National Guard who did a tour of duty in Afghanistan providing protection for a female member of the Afghan Parliament whose life was in constant peril for having the audacity and bad manners to serve in her government. It’s a compelling story that will move a lot of veteran votes into his column in November, and Veterans and military voters are a sizeable enough bloc in this state to swing an election. This one could go either way in November, and it ought to energize Democrats because it really is an existential election for us.
Finally, there were two Kansas City infrastructure initiatives that merit a mention, as well as a constitutional amendment. On the infrastructure votes, we split the difference. We approved desperately needed sewer improvements, but on the other question we threw the gauntlet at Georgia’s feet. I suspect that the only line most people saw was the one that said it would eliminate the yearly $12.50 registration fee per car. They will soon see what they got for that twelve-fifty a year, but not until it’s gone, unfortunately. But then, maybe most folks just really miss those steel plates in the streets that used to cover the potholes and knock our front-ends out of alignment like the good ole days before the streets finally got repaired.
…and I’ve stalled as long as I can. It is with deep embarrassment and bitter humiliation that I report that the “Right to Pray” amendment didn’t just win, it was a drubbing. The evangelical churches mobilized for it and it won passage by 83 percent. Granted, the ballot summary was easily the most banal and innocent-sounding ballot language I’ve ever seen, but c’mon! Eighty-three percent??? I have family outstate who swim against the Christian right tide that has swamped the countryside, so I saw the emails and heard about the phone calls and knew that the opposition was caught flat-footed and didn’t mobilize until it was way too late. But seriously – 83 percent? I don’t think I have ever been more embarrassed by this state in my life – and that is a really, really low bar to get under.