Statewide: Unfortunately, my projection of a 10-point win by gubernatorial challenger Claire McCaskill was pretty accurate, and my allusion to 45% support for Gov. Bob Holden was dead on. I would have liked to have been wrong. Pre-primary polls defined the contest’s fault lines along ideology, with progressives standing up for Holden while moderates and conservatives backed McCaskill.Progressive Democrats have got to be concerned. In addition to the defeat of the principled governor, the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment passed by a much greater margin than anyone had predicted. Jason Klumb, the promising young progressive choice for state treasurer, finished dead last in a three-way contest. The most principled statewide nominee, U.S. Senate candidate Nancy Farmer, faces the most uphill battle, as polls continue to show incumbent Republican Sen. Kit Bond with a sizeable lead. While prospects look very good for other Democrats in November, doubts linger whether their victories will do much to advance a progressive agenda. More about that in a later post.
3rd District: Also regrettable was the 3rd District congressional primary going the way I predicted, apparently for the reasons I had laid out. (See my July 25 analysis and subsequent updates (all published on the Arch City Chronicle web site) republished as the August 5 entry in this blog.) Russ Carnahan won an uninspiring squeaker, as money and birthright proved just as meaningful in a Democratic contest as one would expect in the Republican arena. Jeff Smith’s grassroots effort was much more effective and productive than I had expected, but couldn’t overcome the large influx of underinformed “bandwagon expectation” voters that are inherent in a high-turnout election.
<>But things could have been worse. The stealth effort on the part of the National Rifle Association that I had feared would put Steve Stoll over the top did not materialize, as the NRA blew a once-a-generation opportunity to nab an urban seat. The rural third of the district came through for Stoll, but endorsements from Missouri Right to Life and a couple ward organizations couldn’t even get him 5% in
I must admit, though, that ideology aside, it was reassuring to see Favazza’s low-budget (under $50K) grassroots effort outduel organizational opposition in his own back yard and even put him ahead of at least one of the candidates (
While Jeff Smith carried both
In the Republican congressional primary, Bill Federer’s lopsided 3-1 win demonstrated conclusively that his legal hassles with a vindictive Gephardt campaign four years ago did not damage Federer’s standing with GOP voters. The outpouring of voters favoring Amendment 2 also worked to Federer’s benefit, while the Post-Dispatch endorsement of Joan McGivney was meaningless in a Republican primary.
Federer’s solid victory and Carnahan’s uninspiring win, though, do not put the 3rd District seat in jeopardy for Democrats. Redistricting (courtesy of Joyce Aboussie) made the district solid Democratic territory. President George W. Bush’s unpopularity in this area seals the deal for Carnahan. Prediction: The Oracle sees the lackluster Carnahan beating Federer by a larger margin than Rep. Dick Gephardt enjoyed against a first-time opponent two years ago.
Other Democratic contests: Jeanette Mott
In the wide-open GOP contest for state treasurer, Sen. Sarah Steelman survived her Post-Dispatch endorsement to score a big win. Her leadership in derailing state financing for the new Busch Stadium and her sponsorship of Amendment 2 both helped.
Libertarian miseries: For the second straight election, the Libertarian Party’s planned gubernatorial nominee lost the primary to former Republican doormat John Swenson.