Barack Obama and Timothy Geithner cost Barbara Fraser her seat in the state senate in HD 24. Obama made the mistake of appointing a Wall Street crony, who assured Obama that if THE STREET were rescued, the nation’s economic puzzle would fall into place.
It bloody well didn’t, of course. And voters took their anger and angst out on Democrats all the way down to Barbara Fraser and Kenny Biermann. Fraser lost the race to replace termed out Senator Bray by a heartbreaking 2/10ths of a percentage point. So instead of a progressive woman, SD 24 will send Republican John Lamping, who has never run for office but whose war chest overflowed with money from all over the state, to Jeff City. Then there’s State Rep. Kenny Biermann, who edged out incumbent Vicki Schneider in 2008 but who got more than just edged out (56/44) this go round.
As a result, St. Charles County is now entirely red, and the parts of St. Louis County that teeter between red and blue are redder. Previously secure incumbents were punished. State Rep. Sam Komo, who won his first race in 2006 handily (56/44) and coasted in 2008 to 100%, lost on Tuesday by 49% to 47%. State Rep. Jeff Roorda barely won his first race in 2004 (51/49), but in 2006 he beat the man he had edged out in ’04 by twenty points. Last time around, Roorda had no opposition. Tuesday night, though, he lost 50% to 42%. (The other 8% went to a Constitution Party candidate, so call that Republican and think of the outcome as 58/42.) That race wasn’t even close.
Freshman State Rep. Vicki Englund went down to the opponent, Cloria Brown, that she had beaten (55/45) for an empty seat in 2008. This time Brown got 53%; Englund only 47%. (At least freshman Jeanne Kirkton eked out a win in Webster Groves with 51% of the vote. Freshman Jill Schupp, fortunately, didn’t have an opponent.)
And the loss of all those seats in the St. Louis metro area doesn’t even count the races where the Democratic challenger might well have succeeded in another electoral climate. The most obvious of those is Deb Lavender in her second shot at Rick Stream for the House seat in Kirkwood. It would have been a triumph of principle over slippery selfishness, and she had i.d.’d enough Democratic and Democratic leaning voters to put her over the top. But they didn’t show up in sufficient numbers. She lost 56% to 44%. At 10:30 Tuesday night, as I left her election night gathering, no results were in–not in her race. But the bleak picture was emerging elsewhere. When I said goodbye, she smiled, put an arm around my shoulders and said that in the morning, she’d either join the long list of disappointments or be one tiny ray of hope. Love that lady’s spirit.
I don’t know whether she’ll have one more go at Stream any more than I know whether Fraser, Komo, Roorda, Biermann, or Englund will fight back in 2012. Nor do I know whether Obama will give them a better chance to succeed if they do try it again. Jane Hamsher, writing at HuffPost, doubts it:
After a rout like this, the only sane response is to fire everyone in the White House (starting with Robert Gibbs) and admit that your messaging failed. What worked for the Democrats this time? Protecting Social Security, anti-NAFTA/free trade and jobs creation. What does Obama plan to do? As of this morning, double down on his plan to spend the next two years reducing the deficit, which means cuts to Social Security, and potentially exacerbating unemployment. And yesterday, the President “assured his South Korean counterpart that his administration was working hard to complete a free trade pact between the two countries.” Good luck to anyone running as a Democrat in 2012.
My pipe dream is that Obama would replace the Geithner and Emanuel types with Paul Krugman and Robert Reich. Reich just bemoaned the Democratic tendency, after a loss like this, to move to the center (whereas the Republicans, after a similar loss, dig in their heels and stay put).
But I know Obama won’t listen to progressives like Reich. He’s too scared of offending Wall Street. So all I can do is shout into the wind: Goddamit, Mr. President, be a Democrat. The country needs one.