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November 2018 Election Notes

7 Nov

It was another big red GOP win in JeffCo, arguably even bigger than those of the previous eight years, despite the lopsided rejection of Right to Work by county voters in August that Democrat candidates thought would help carry them to some victories. Here are some notes:

-As STL Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum put it, “For the first time probably in Missouri history, Republicans now hold every single state legislative seat in Jefferson County.” This is thanks to Mary Elizabeth Coleman ending Mike Revis’ short tenure as the state rep for district 97 (he won the seat in February) and Mike McGirl breaking the Democrat (and JeffCo resident) stranglehold on the 118th district seat. A minority of the district resides in Washington County, as does McGirl, but JeffCo voters went for party over county in choosing him over DeSoto resident Barbara Marco. Also interesting – Marco’s treasurer was DeSoto city councilman Clay Henry.

-In countywide races, victorious GOP candidates averaged 58% of the vote. New county clerk Ken Waller, however, only squeaked by with a mere 51.5%. This suggests that a fair number of Republicans did not vote for him (approximately 7,000, it looks like), but not enough to help opponent and incumbent Randy Holman overcome the red wave.

-Her 32-year incumbency, Democrat affiliation, and pay increase lawsuit against the taxpayers were not enough to keep collector Beth Mahn from winning a 9th term with 52.7% of the vote, the only Democrat in the county to win yesterday.

-One race where money did not seem to matter was the county executive race, where Democrat Jeff Roorda outspent victorious Republican Dennis Gannon by about $46,000 to $21,000 (as of eight days before the election). Yet Gannon won the race by about the same margin as other countywide GOP candidates. I thought Roorda would have been more competitive. But I said the same thing in 2014 when he lost a Senate race to Paul Wieland.

-In another such race, Waller edged Holman while underperforming other Republicans even though he outspent his opponent by $128,000 (!) to $5,000 (again as of eight days out). That was almost a Beto O’Rourke-level of investment return for those who gave to Waller. Holman had about $10,000 in the bank as of that last report; perhaps he should have spent a little more of it.

-In addition to the county legislative delegation being entirely GOP, the county council is now entirely GOP, with lone Dem Dan Darian losing his race. With Waller’s divisive presence out of the way, it will be interesting to see what Gannon and the new council can do. Hopefully they will deliver on measures to improve economic growth and the business climate in our county.


RTW Roll Call

3 Feb

The Missouri Legislature has passed right to work and sent it to the governor’s desk, where it is sure to be signed. Below I will record the votes of the JeffCo legislative contingent on right to work bills (HB 91 and SB 19). There are no surprises here; everyone voted as expected.


Wieland – No

Romine – No


Gannon – No

Harris – No

McCaherty – No

Roden – No

Ruth – No

Shaul – Yes

Vescovo – Yes

Legislature Spring Break Update

27 Mar

The Legislature will reconvene this week after a two week spring break. Unlike college kids, who get wild and crazy over spring break, Missouri legislators calm down during spring break, spending time at home with their families. They save their wild and crazy conduct for Jefferson City.

Here is an update on some noteworthy votes taken in the past month. I post these on Facebook as they happen, but I like to collect them here since it serves as a better long-term record. Items posted on Facebook disappear pretty quickly and are not easy to retrieve.

Beer bill (SB 919): This bill “would allow beer companies to lease portable refrigeration units to grocers and convenience stores, and allow those same stores to sell beer in reusable containers known as growlers.” Opponents argued it would benefit big brewers at the expense of small brewers, by letting companies like Anheuser-Busch take up more space in stores. Proponents said it was a good deal for everyone. JeffCo senators Paul Wieland and Gary Romine voted yes on this bill, which passed the Senate.

Prescription drug monitoring program (HB 1892): This bill would make Missouri the 50th state to implement a database to track prescriptions in order to prevent people from shopping around to acquire opiods from multiple doctors. This bill passed the House. Voting yes on this bill from JeffCo were Reps. Ben Harris (the lone JeffCo Democrat), Dan Shaul, and Elaine Gannon. Voting against it were Reps. John McCaherty, Rob Vescovo, Becky Ruth, and Shane Roden. Here is why McCaherty said he opposes it in his weekly newsletter:

My issues with this version of the bill is more on the lines of its usage. Physicians and pharmacist are not required to use the database, and in states where there is lot requirement, such as Florida the data is accessed less than 2% of the time. Is the answer to create a database that is used so little??

Thus, in his mind the benefits of the bill did not outweigh the risks to privacy, including risks from hackers.

Paycheck protection (HB 1891): This bill passed the House in February (I wrote on it here) and made its way to the Senate, where it passed before being vetoed by the Governor. However, an override attempt is likely to take place, as the bill passed by sufficient margins for an override. Senator Wieland voted against it, while Senator Romine, who was present during the early part of the over seven hour debate, was absent when the vote was taken. Convenient absence in an election year?

SJR 39:

This proposed constitutional amendment, if approved by the qualified voters of this state, prohibits the state from imposing a penalty on a religious organization who acts in accordance with a sincere religious belief concerning same sex marriage, which includes the refusal to perform a same sex marriage ceremony or allow a same sex wedding ceremony to be performed on the religious organization’s property.

The state cannot penalize an individual who declines, due to sincere religious beliefs, to provide goods of expressional or artistic creation for a same sex wedding or wedding reception.

This bill was filibustered for 39 hours in the Senate before passing, drawing national attention. This is similar to bills that have gained attention in other states. Senators Wieland and Romine voted for it.

Critchlow law (HB 1432): Rep. Vescovo’s bill to curb the overuse of paid administrative leave for wrongdoers like Dianne Critchlow and Melissa Click. This bill passed the House, as it did last year before dying in the Senate. Reps. Vescovo, McCaherty, Roden, and Shaul voted for it, while Reps. Ruth, Gannon, and Harris voted no.

#MoLeg Update: Ethics and Paycheck Protection

25 Feb

I would like to report on the Jefferson County angle on two recent happenings in the Missouri Legislature.

Paycheck Protection: This bill requires public sector unions in the state (i.e. those representing government employees) to get yearly permission from workers before taking automatic deduction of union dues from their paychecks. It passed the state House a week ago by a veto-proof margin. This idea is tougher for union types to argue against than right to work: while only two JeffCo GOP representatives have voted for right to work, so far (Shaul and Vescovo), four of the six voted for paycheck protection. Only Becky Ruth (114th district, Festus) and Elaine Gannon (115th, De Soto) voted no on this one, which now moves to the Senate.

The logic is this: if the employees don’t agree with the union’s politics, or don’t think it offers value, they shouldn’t be forced to pay. The union should have to collect its fees like any other organization, rather than receiving free collection services from the government. Furthermore, some ask why public unions even exist, given that state employees already receive the full range of civil service protections that make it so hard to fire bad ones.

Ethics: A number of ethics bills passed the House early in the session and are now being taken up in the Senate. Unfortunately, the Senate took out the knives and gutted the one year cooling off period provision, which would make legislators wait a year after leaving office before becoming a lobbyist. Recall last year when Senator Dempsey quit the Senate in order to become a lobbyist.

Adding to the unfortunateness, our own Senator Paul Wieland (22nd, Imperial, GOP) helped remove the cooling off period. We know this because the Missouri Alliance for Freedom (MAF) was watching in the Senate gallery. The Senate voted on the idea by standing division, which means no written record was kept. But the MAF saw Wieland join the anti-ethics side. I saw no word on whether Wieland, who made the top-ten list of lobbyist gift recipients in 2015, said anything in the Senate debate on a bill banning lobbyist gifts. That bill was shelved for a later time. Wieland needs to get on the right side of these ethics bills.

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