Jay Nixon has announced his senior staff and communications team, ten people in all. The list is heavy on folks who’ve worked for Nixon as Attorney General. Other than that, the two names that stand out to me are the new Communications Director, Jack Cardetti, who has been the Communications Director for the state party, and the new Policy Director, Jeff Harris, who was a state rep from Columbia and who lost in his bid last August for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General.
Anti-CAFO activists are joyful at the appointment. Not only are they about to have a governor who has said:
“We must join together to protect our parks as well as our rural farmland from the factory farm and the resulting emissions, runoff and smells. [emphasis mine]
They will also have a man helping to set policy who will remind Nixon–should the governor ever need it–of the damage done by those stinking, inhumane, polluting, local economy destroying, health threats (to both rural and urban dwellers alike).
Harris butted his head against a Republican wall last year trying to get two bills heard. One would have mandated that no CAFO could be located within five miles of a state park or historic site. The other would have granted local control over whether a CAFO could be built in a community. Considering how unpopular these monstrosities are among many rural Missourians, the Republican House leaders didn’t want to put their members on the spot by allowing a vote on either bill.
Everybody’s talking the bipartisan religion, now that the lege is about to gin up in these tough economic times, but I don’t expect the Republicans to suddenly allow any bills to be heard like those Harris introduced last session. ‘Sokay, though. Let’s just see who gets the nod from Nixon to run the DNR. Let’s see how easy it is to get licensed to build a new one these next four years. Mm-hmmm. Let’s just see.
Thursday evening I went to a forum for attorney general candidates that was hosted by former governor Bob Holden at Webster University. I had heard Harris and Donnelly speak at a previous forum (where Koster canceled because of a scheduling conflict). Since I’ve never heard Koster speak but have been told what an excellent speaker he is, I was curious to see how he would impress me.
But oops. He had another scheduling conflict. All I got of Koster was that one audience member asked Donnelly and Harris what they knew about him. I never heard either of them criticize the other all evening or the last time they spoke. They were less kind to Koster. Margaret, at least, was strictly Jack Webb in the information she offered. While Jeff added more facts to her answer, he couldn’t resist a humorous jab or two during the evening.
Both Harris and Donnelly are articulate speakers, not burdened with “umms” or “I thinks” or other distracting verbal quirks. What strikes you when they have a chance to talk in some detail about their goals is how focused they are on improving Missouri. Which is something there’s a lot of room for after the godawful governance we’ve had of recent years under Republicans.
DNR director Doyle Childers is a brick wall. Environmentalists and ordinary rural people are welcome to bat their heads against him on the CAFO issue, but he knows their warnings about leaky lagoons are a bunch of henny penny the sky is falling nonsense. But sometimes even a brick wall can’t hold back a flood. Six days ago, the K.C. Star reported that officials are worried about CAFO lagoons overflowing or collapsing.
Along the Mississippi River, they’re watching the levees. In northern Missouri, they’re watching the walls of lagoons holding back millions of gallons of animal waste.
Rains this week were filling waste lagoons on industrial farms, and some were leaking and overflowing.
State officials, worried that lagoon walls might collapse, have told farmers that they can lower lagoon levels by spraying the waste on fields, even though the ground was soaked from rainfall.
No doubt spraying the waste on the fields is better than watching a lagoon wall break, but spraying is no solution either. When the ground is soaked, the excrement still flows off into local streams.
“This could result in an unprecedented environmental disaster,” said Scott Dye, national director of the Sierra Club’s Water Sentinel program. Several thousand gallons of waste from a lagoon leaked Thursday into a stream that flows through Dye’s family farm near Unionville.
A collapsed lagoon would be even worse, Dye said.
“I have no idea how you clean up 25 million gallons of hog (waste),” he said. “This is exactly why people are opposed to them.”
Fifteen years ago, before CAFOs proliferated in Missouri, we had the flood of ’93. Remember that? I do. But nobody worried about CAFO levees then because hogs–and their waste–were scattered all over the state, not concentrated in an acre here and another acre there.
Jeff Harris, running for Attorney General, wants to see these disasters-in-the-making reined in. This year, he sponsored legislation (that went nowhere in the Republican General Assembly) to keep CAFOs at least five miles from state parks and to grant local control of CAFOs.
His latest press release says:
“Right now, our local communities have no control over where these corporate farms get built, and that has got to stop,” said Harris. “Right now, the state closes its doors and prevents the people who know the land best from even being heard. As Attorney General, I will stand up for Missourians and against Big Ag, corporate interests and the political appointees who let them have their way.”
Harris will force DNR to pay attention to local communities and to consider their concerns and opposition before approving new CAFOs. Harris will go after corporate farms that contaminate the ground and water, holding them accountable and making them pay to clean up the mess they leave behind.
Good ‘tude, dude. But how do you “force” the DNR to listen? I called him and asked.
Harris said that the AG cannot, of course, pass laws or regulations, but he can certainly propose them, and the weight of the office goes a long way toward making them happen. He assumes that if and when Jay is governor, Childers will be history, and the new DNR director will be more amenable to passing regulations that control some of the CAFO problems.
On the other hand, I pointed out, Harris would have no vote in the legislature. And yet his press release speaks of giving local communities control over the building of CAFOs. Jeff responded:
“I believe that I would have an even stronger position as Attorney General to advocate for those things that we want changed. As an example, in ’03–the winter of ’03, the 2004 session–I sponsored the legislation–but Jay was the one pushing it–that upgraded the Sunshine Law. In fact, we did a fly around. We went to Hannibal and St. Louis and Columbia, and some, one other place, did a big press fly around, followed up with joint press releases. And even though it was my legislation, it was clearly part of his legislative agenda.”
Getting such CAFO legislation passed should be easier next year than this year because there will almost surely be a larger proportion of Democrats in the legislature, enough so that with a few Republican allies, and a governor who wouldn’t veto it, local control could happen. Jeff added:
“Correct. I could build on my legislative leadership experience to get my agenda through the general assembly. I mean, I understand how the process works, having been the leader, and on top of that I know a lot of the personalities involved.”
All this is not to say that Harris’ opponent, Margaret Donnelly, feels any differently about CAFOs than he does. She has opposed them and shown it in her votes.
His other opponent, Chris Koster, on the other hand, last year introduced legislation to strip away whatever minimal local control existed. It would have been bad enough to have voted for such legislation, but to introduce it?
The threat of a broken lagoon wall hovers over much of the state. It would make the Taum Sauk reservoir failure look like a bubble bath. And it is raining even as I type. But Lord willin’ and the creek lagoon don’t rise, we’ll start to take sensible measures on this issue once the Democrats have more power in Missouri.
The photo, from flickr, is an aerial view of Whitetail Hog Cafo, Missouri. Those things that look like steps are hog barns, and the barns in the center of the picture are flanked by two lagoons.
The seed was planted a few weeks ago, when a commenter lauded Jeff Harris’ internet outreach and wondered if someone who supported Margaret Donnelly could do the same thing for her. The thought went into full bloom when I saw her in action at the West County Democrats debate last week. From the beginning of the debate, she was passionate, intelligent, articulate, and I agreed with her on the issues. I was also impressed by her experience. Over the last two decades, Rep. Donnelly has been a family lawyer fighting for abused children and spouses, an advocate who helped establish the first battered women’s shelter in St. Louis County, served on school boards and as a Metro commissioner; and as ranking Democrat on the budget commitee, she has a comprehensive knowledge of the same state agencies that an Attorney General has to deal with extensively. I was outraged that none of this seemed to be coming across over the internet, and as someone who has been involved in online politics in one way or another since 2002, I thought I could be of help. Late last week, I offered my services to Margaret, and she accepted.
Ironically, I’ve decided not to write any further frontpage diaries about the Attorney General race, because I’m being paid for my help. I don’t want to give candidates the impression that they can pay for access or to slant coverage one way or another. Our other regular frontpagers will continue to do a good job covering the race, and I hope that readers will continue to comment and contribute diaries as well. I may step in now and again to comment in order to correct an incorrect statement about Rep. Donnelly, but I anticipate that others here will do a good enough job that I don’t have to. In any case, I look forward to a spirited primary, and to helping Margaret Donnelly become Missouri’s first female Attorney General.
The West County Democrats scheduled a forum for candidates in the Attorney General’s race for this month’s meeting, but unfortunately, we only got a look at Margaret Donnelly and Jeff Harris. Chris Koster was a no show. His campaign informed the WCD hosts that a scheduling glitch had gotten him scheduled for two different events at once.
Since WCD is a very progressive group of people, there was skepticism about the explanation from Koster’s campaign–you know, a feeling that Koster might have canceled because he knew he’d be in hostile territory. I have no idea whether the skepticism was warranted, but I was disappointed. I know and respect Harris and Donnelly, both of them. But I was really looking forward to forming an impression of Koster.
Instead, here’s what I learned: Donnelly and Harris agree on basically every issue–including the idea that Koster isn’t a real Democrat. Margaret pointed out that “there will be two Republicans running in this race–but one of them will call himself a Democrat.” Jeff told us he has an eight month old daughter named Grace. “She’s a Democrat. And she’s been a Democrat longer than one of my opponents.”
What neither candidate did was speak ill of the other. There wasn’t a whisper of that. In fact, Jeff pointed out that when he was leading the Democratic caucus in the House, he appointed Margaret the ranking member on the budget committee. Of course, though, each tried to highlight his or her accomplishments.
Margaret Donnelly portrayed herself as someone who spent twenty years in courtrooms defending victims, especially children who’ve been victims of abuse as well as women who’ve been abused. The AG’s office is, after all, meant to protect Missourians, whether they’re children at the mercy of sexual predators, the seniors too often victimized in financial scams, or consumers hurt by faulty products.
Donnelly says her other strength is her experience with managing large budgets. She’s the only one in the race with that kind of experience, and the AG has to manage a large budget. Furthermore, as a member of the House budget committee, she became familiar with the budgets of many state agencies. That knowledge, she says, will prove valuable to her as AG.
Harris pointed with pride to the fact that two years into his tenure in the House he was chosen to lead the Democratic caucus. Those were dark days for the Ds, he says, and he never backed down.
In fact, Jeff often paints himself as a fighter. For example, he has fought against CAFOs, having introduced a bill this year to give local governmental entities control over their licensing. As he began a short rant about the Farm Bureau, the mike blanked out for a second and he joked that the Bureau probably had it bugged.
He also portrayed himself as someone who, when he worked as an assistant AG for Nixon, successfully fought to defend public employees and their right to collectively bargain when the Republicans tried to curtail that right.
Finally, he spoke with pride of his opposition to Blunt’s secrecy over e-mails. Jeff said that because of his outspoken criticism of Blunt’s tightfisted attitude toward information that ought to be public, Blunt’s office retaliated by insisting that Jeff turn over all his own e-mails and documents to them. Which he willingly did because he isn’t secretive–80,000 documents.
Of course, on the issue of fighting Republican secretiveness, Margaret had her own claim to fame. When the Ethics Commission proposed to have secret meetings with candidates who wanted to claim hardship in returning over-the-limit campaign contributions, she filed a lawsuit to make the Commission hold the meetings in public.
On two issues, I found myself to the left of both candidates. Both favor the death penalty, though both also favor additional protections for those accused of death penalty crimes. Donnelly thinks the AGs office, which handles death penalty appeals, should allot more money to defense counsel. Harris echoed that sentiment and added that DNA evidence should be used in an exculpatory manner, not just as inculpatory.
Both candidates also believe, in reference to eminent domain, that the definition of “blight” must be tightened, but neither seemed to feel that it was wrong to take property for redevelopment.
I was pleased to see both of them, when asked about Nixon’s letter to the California Supreme Court regarding gay marriage, express disappointment. They felt that Missouri law is clear on that subject and that Nixon’s letter was unnecessary.
Harris went after Gibbons for making the first press release of his campaign a call for Nixon to protest the California ruling. “If I had his track record of caving to corporate interests, I’d want to talk about California too.”
Good for both candidates for not thinking it’s OK to kick around the LGBT community, and especially good for Jeff for turning Gibbons’ pandering back on him.
So we have two fine candidates here, but they face a well funded Republican recently turned Democrat. One of the questions posed by the audience was, are you two progressives going to knock each other off and hand the race to Koster? Their answers to that had some meat, but not enough to satisfy me.
Jeff said that he and Margaret have both raised plenty of money and that one of them will win. Progressives need to back one or the other of them. He disdains Koster for carrying the Farm Bureau’s water and doing Blunt’s bidding. “I’m not worried, not scared of this guy.”
Margaret said that Koster only wins if we don’t get the word out about his recent switch of parties. Primary voters can be educated. Furthermore, she says she’s right behind Koster in fundraising. (And, by the way, all her funds come from individuals, whereas five or six contributors gave Koster almost half a million dollars, and Sinquefield gave him $100,000.)
I’d like to believe them, and maybe one of them will win. But I hate these triangles with two of the people I like pitted against each other. But that’s not to say that I hate Chris Koster. In fact, I really wanted to see him today, to see how he struck me.
On the other hand, he’s committed some real Republican sins and needs to be … put into electoral purgatory–at least as far as statewide office–until we see some repentance. Perhaps repentance isn’t so much what I’m looking for as assurance that he has seen the light.
Until then, I’m rooting for Donnelly and Harris. I couldn’t possibly pick a winner after having heard them today. I just know that one of them needs to win in August. As Margaret said, “This race is about the soul of the Democratic Party.”
Via Tony Messenger at P-D’s Political Fix, Republican AG candidate Michael Gibbons will sign HB 2224 tomorrow flanked by police officers. HB 2224 is a bill that creates funding for pay raises for deputy sheriffs. Nevermind that as Senate President Pro Tem, he already signed the bill before the legislative session ended at the end of May.
Also nevermind that his rival Democratic candidates (Margaret Donnelly, Jeff Harris, and Chris Koster) all voted for the same bill during the session.
Speaking of the Democratic candidates, we’ll have a report up later in the day about the West County Democrats’ Attorney General Forum, with audio of the event (if I can get it uploaded to my computer!)
For years, my cousin seemed uncomfortable, to say the least. She was bright and outgoing as a child, but soon after she hit adolescence, she withdrew, almost seeming anguished when any attention was focused on her. I didn’t think much of it at the time; after all, it’s hardly unusual for a teenager to become moody and self-conscious. But this “phase” lasted for years, until well after graduation, and the years didn’t visibly alter her moods. She was probably about twenty when my sister, who is much closer to her than I am, told me the reason for my cousin’s anguish. She’s a lesbian in a small town, and she couldn’t count on anybody in her environment, whether at home, school, or work, to understand what she felt. Now things have changed for her. She’s told the family about her sexual orientation, and after some adjustment, most of us now accept her as she is. She has a committed partner now. While I have no idea if they would have plans to get married if that were possible, they are probably more committed to each other than some married couples I have known. She is really happy now, the same bright, outgoing person I knew her to be as a child before being interrupted by the confusion of teenage years. And I’m happy she is happy, and I’d like to keep it that way. Which is why I get so angry when the LBGT community gets tossed around like a football every time an election comes up. And why I’m upset with Jay Nixon right now.
More below the fold.
In case you somehow missed it, the California Supreme Court in mid-May struck down the ban on gay marriage in the state. In reaction, conservatives in California will put a ballot initiative forward asking voters to approve or deny a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Matt Blunt and Kenny Hulshof have been taunting Jay Nixon for a few days to file a brief asking the California Supreme Court to delay implementing its decision until voters can weigh in via the ballot initiative. And on Wednesday, Nixon gave in.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Republicans over the last 8 years, it’s that they don’t care if you give in, if you agree with them, or if you cave on an issue. They’ll still call you a gay terrorist-lovin’ atheist abortionist. And true to form, Blunt gloated when Nixon caved:
“Though it is nearly a week overdue, I am glad Nixon finally answered my call and joined with other attorneys general as he should have done last Thursday,” Gov. Matt Blunt said in a statement. “Missourians overwhelmingly believe that marriage is between one man and one woman and they deserve an attorney general who stands up for traditional marriage because it is the right thing to do, not because they receive pressure from others.”
At a minimum, why couldn’t Jay Nixon have pointed out that this is a non-issue in the state and the Missouri voters have serious matters before them, like a looming recession, skyrocketing gas and health care prices, and a housing crisis? Pragmatically, I realize that Nixon is not going to push for the repeal of DOMA or the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but to go out of state to fight against same-sex marriage, well, that just feels like he’s kicking my cousin.
I was going to point out that the Democratic AG candidates would also face similar challenges on same-sex marriage from the Republicans, but in glancing at the news before finishing this post, I see that Jeff Harris has already answered Republican Michael Gibbons on just this matter:
“As Attorney General of the State of Missouri, I will consistently work to support and uphold the constitution that governs our state.
“However, the issue being raised by Senator Gibbons is not one that presently affects our state. Senator Gibbons is attempting to distract the voters – notably in the very first press release of his AG campaign – with rhetoric that is more about divisiveness than substance. These are actions I cannot and will not support.
“If I had Senator Gibbons’ record of caving in to corporate interests instead of fighting to protect consumers, I think I would rather talk about a California court ruling, too.”
That’s good. I’ll update if and when anybody else chimes in.
Now that the dust is settling on the regular legislative session, the Democratic candidates for Attorney General, all of whom serve in the lege, are whipping out press releases. As you can imagine, they all more or less say that they are teh awsum, and their opponents are teh suck. And they’re all probably true, to some degree.
What’s most interesting is the clash on the Voter ID bill. State Sen. Chris Koster helped kill the Voter ID bill by participating in a filibuster against the “Village Law” repeal, a measure that would strip developers of the right to populate a tract of land with their own employees or relatives, then have the land declared a “village” in order to release the property from a town’s zoning regulations. The “right” was only granted by an unknown senator slipping it in a larger bill undetected last session, and many Republicans and Democrats were rightly upset about it. So Koster filibustered a good measure to correct a bad bill, and both Donnelly and Harris nail him for it.
But Koster has his own side to the story. He quotes our own Blue Girl and Michael Bersin, among others, crediting him for stopping the Voter ID bill by chewing up so much of the waning hours of the session with his filibuster. And he does deserve credit, because it’s not clear that the Voter ID bill would have been stopped in the legislature without Koster’s key role in gumming up the works.
Still, I’d like to know exactly where Koster stands on forcing all Missouri voters to present government-issued photo IDs before they can vote, especially since he voted for such a restriction in 2006.
All three press releases are below the fold.
Jeff Harris Emerges from Session as Only Consumer Champion in A.G. Race
Harris Fights for the Little Guy, His Opponents Cave
to Corporate Interests
Columbia – Representative Jeff Harris emerged from the just completed legislative session as the clear choice for Attorney General for Missourians concerned about consumer rights. During the last session, Harris sponsored a number of bills that demonstrate his commitment to protecting the interest of regular Missourians.
From protecting our children from sexual predators by restricting their ability to live within close proximity of parks to protecting people’s email inboxes from spam, Harris spelled out his determination to serve as a watchdog for all Missourians. Harris again sponsored a measure to give local communities and citizens a voice over where a factory farm can set up shop and another measure to toughen the penalties for shaking a young child.
While Jeff Harris stood firm against a HB 1779 which will cut regulation of local phone service and allow companies like AT&T to jack up consumer’s phone bills, his opponents caved. Senator Chris Koster voted with the big phone companies and Representative Margaret Donnelly ducked the final vote. 1 Last year, Donnelly voted for a bill that benefited big cable companies, which critics also said would help out AT&T. Both Koster and Donnelly have taken thousands from the telecom industry. 2
In the final days of the session, Senator Koster also took a bizarre stand for a Democrat, by filibustering a bill that would have repealed the so-called “Village Law.” That law allows developers to skirt local and county regulations. Not only did Koster side with wealthy developers, he was also personally championing a fight on behalf of his friend, the Republican Speaker of the House Rod Jetton. The Springfield News Leader reported that Koster met with Jetton to discuss strategy for filibustering this bill to benefit Jetton’s rich developer friends. 3
“Throughout this campaign, Senator Koster has continued to show his confusion about just what it means to be a Democrat,” said Jeff Harris. “I know that standing up for regular folks and against rich corporations is a new concept for him, but taking up a fight on behalf of the Republican Speaker and his cronies is a flat out insult to Democrats, to working families and to communities across this state.”
“I’m extremely proud of my record in fighting for consumers during this session and throughout my career,” Harris added. “The Attorney General is the people’s advocate, and Missourians should have no doubt that I will be a consistent and constant advocate for them. When people look at their rising phone bills, I hope that they’ll remember who fought for them and who sided with wealthy special interests.”
Jeff Harris served as an Assistant Attorney General under Jay Nixon. He has worked in the legislature and in the Attorney General’s Office to represent the interests of Missouri families. Harris, who also served as Democratic Leader in the House of Representatives, represents Columbia in the Missouri House.
Koster’s Priorities are Sex Shops and Special Interests over Missourians
Successful filibuster helps Speaker Jetton, Sex Shops, and not much else
JEFFERSON CITY – As the legislative session comes to a close, it is usually the final opportunity for lawmakers to pass bills helpful to their constituents. However, one tag team of lawmakers, Senators Chris Koster, D-Raymore and Senator Victor Callahan
D-Independence used the final hours of the legislative session to filibuster the “Village Law Repeal” bill in the State Senate. The legislation had two major provisions: the first repealed the “Village Law”; the second placed tougher restrictions on sex shops and pornography. After a long filibuster a compromise was reached. The bill passed, but without the emergency clause allowing it to become law immediately.
Numerous newspaper editorials have condemned the “Village Law” because of the proliferation of so called “villages” popping up in many areas of the state as a way for developers to avoid accountability to county government. The provision was inserted at the last minute last year and permits development to occur regardless of the impact on neighboring communities. This has been a pet project of Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton, a close friend of Koster’s.
State Representative Margaret Donnelly commented on the filibuster saying, “It is outrageous that in the final days of session Senator Koster has made it a priority to filibuster a bill in order to help his friend Speaker Jetton. The repeal of the village law provision is essential to protecting the wishes of neighboring citizens from projects such as gaming or CAFOs. He must also be against putting regulations on sex shops, since his filibuster resulted in that portion being stripped from the bill. Although the repeal of the village law finally occurred, without the emergency clause it will be the “Wild West” for developers from now until August.
“I expect more from a candidate for Attorney General. He should be ashamed,” said Donnelly. “This shows once again that Koster values his special interests and Republican friends over the best interests of all Missourians.”
Koster and Callahan Defeat Republican Attempt to Rig Elections
Last week, Senators Chris Koster and Victor Callahan stood up to extreme partisans in order to keep them from disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Missouri voters. Along with Chuck Graham and Jeff Smith, Koster and Callahan blocked Republican efforts to bring Voter I.D. legislation to the floor of the Missouri Senate in the closing hours of the legislative session.
Praise for Senat
ors Koster and Callahan have been widely reported in the traditional and alternative media. What follows is a representative sample:
“Finally, I can’t close this post without thanking Senators Koster and Callahan. They used parliamentary procedure and ran out the clock on the session, and in so doing, they strangled Rosemary’s Baby-the proof-of-citizenship-to-vote amendment to the state Constitution-in its crib.
Chris gets full marks from me for his clever application of the rules on Thursday and Friday.” –Blue Girl, Red State Democratic Blog, 5/18/2008
“For those of us stationed outside Jefferson City, last week’s filibuster over the proposed repeal of the “village law” (which filed numerous fix posts) was fascinating drama. Or was it farce?
“While at Mizzou on Saturday for a family college graduation, this reporter heard tantalizing talk among the politicos and others milling around the town, who hinted at something larger than what first seemed to be the case. Some of the filibuster participants-especially those close to House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill and with a growing cadre of consulting clients on the side-no doubt sought to block the repeal.
But to hear some of the behind-the-scenes talk around the hallowed pillars, some of the Democrats who aided the filibuster [Senators Koster, Callahan, Graham & Smith] may have had another objective-to slow down or prevent deliberation on other unwanted measures, notably the Photo ID bill.
The idea being to assist those truly against the village law repeal, and in doing so kill valuable time so that other controversial bills died on the vine, so to speak.” –Jo Mannies, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“I had only a brief opportunity to speak with State Senator (and Attorney General candidate) Chris Koster about the end of the session. His “run out the clock” strategy on the floor of the Senate was singled out for praise by State Auditor Susan Montee in her remarks to those attending the banquet.” –Michael Bersin, Show-Me Progress
“The village law filibuster helped kill (the) photo ID measure. It was a curious development in what was a strange bunch of hours in the Missouri Senate. Democrats-such as Senators Chris Koster, D-Harrisonville, and Victor Callhan, D-Independence- joined with Republicans close to House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill-such as Senators Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, and Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville-to kill the repeal.
When asked about why he joined in on the filibuster, Graham seemed to confirm what Post-Dispatch reporter Jo Mannies heard at a graduation ceremony this weekend. Graham said, “Frankly, it was an opportunity to slow down the process and keep us from bringing up other bills like the abortion bill and the photo ID bill. Any time we have an opportunity to eat the clock like that, it was a good opportunity for the Democratic perspective to slow things down.” –Jason Rosenbaum, Columbia Daily Tribune
Yesterday I mentioned that Jeff Harris was using his campaign website to promote efforts against the Voter ID bill. Now Margaret Donnelly gets in on the action. There’s nothing on her website at the moment, but she did send an e-mail to her list (full text below the fold) asking supporters to contact their state senator and ask them to oppose the bill. I like the language in it – she calls this a continuation of the “the Republican attack on suffrage.” Interestingly, she only gives a general link to her website. Harris has a tool to mail an e-mail to state senators about Voter ID, while Donnelly directs you to the Missouri Senate website to look up and contact your senator.
Are there any other elected officials mobilizing like this against the Voter ID bill?
As the 94th General Assembly comes to an end, the Republican leadership has decided to spend the legislature’s last days debating and passing HJR 48, a ballot initiative to require Missouri citizens to have a government-issued photo identification card in order to vote. The Republican attack on suffrage first started in the 2006 session as an attempt to boost the electoral chances of then U.S. Senator Jim Talent. Their efforts failed then and now they are back this session in another desperate attempt to hold on to power against overwhelming voter discontent.
Voter ID legislation has been a “red herring” from its inception. There has been no evidence in Missouri of voter impersonation fraud in the past 4 election cycles that requiring a photo ID would have prevented. Even Governor Blunt, as Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005, described Missouri elections “free of fraud”. HJR 48 would only create an insurmountable hurdle for many of Missouri’s elderly and new citizens. Our country’s voting rights should be vigorously protected from fraud, but they should not be trampled on in an attempt to disenfranchise voters. As your attorney general, I will oppose any attempt to weaken our voting rights, whether that be fraud or desperate politicians.
As the Missouri Senate prepares to debate HJR 48, I urge you to contact your state senator. You can reach their office by calling the senate switch board at (573) 751-2000. You can find the name of your state senator and state representative by clicking here.
Tell them to stand up for the rights of voters and vote NO on HJR 48.
Remember to check out our website at www.donnelly08.com for the latest news from the campaign trail!
There was a lot of talk at the Missouri Democratic Convention about the new voter ID bill. Robin Carnahan made an excellent speech detailing the problems with the proposed bill (she expanded on this in a Huffington Post diary), and Rep. Lacy Clay highlighted Jay Nixon’s strong stance against new voter ID restrictions. Basically, the law would knock up to 240,000 Missourians off the voter rolls to combat a problem for which no evidence exists.
So what do we do about it? The bill is headed for the Missouri Senate, and about the best we can hope for is that a filibuster holds. This would be a good chance for Senator Koster to show he is a true Democrat and is willing to fight for the rights of the elderly, the poor, and minorities who would overwhelmingly be affected by the voter purge. Even in the event of a filibuster, the Republicans will probably break it with a PQ (“moving the previous question”, also known as the nuclear option) as they have done in recent sessions to get their way. So it then becomes paramount that the public be made aware of the problems with this bill before they vote on it in early August.
Fortunately, there’s also an extremely high profile statewide Democratic primary the same day the voter ID law would be placed on the ballot. Three Democrats are running for Attorney General, and if all of them speak often and loudly against the proposed law, in conjunction with other Missouri Democrats with big megaphones, the larger Democratic turnout might be able to overcome it. Jeff Harris is doing just that with a prominent anti-voter ID tool on his website: http://www.electjeffharris.com…
Let’s hope the other Attorney General candidates join him soon in this effort.