Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Special in Senate 22?

With the appointment of Ryan McKenna to director of the Department of Labor, folks are wondering whether the governor will call a special election for Senate 22 or if it will remain vacant until the regularly scheduled election next year.

A few thoughts:

First, Dems think that a higher turnout benefits them in this district.  Therefore a regular election gives their candidate, Rep. Jeff Roorda, a bit more advantage.

Of course, a springtime special election would only be a prelude to an autumn rematch, and the benefits of a six month incumbency wouldn’t be that great.

Second, some question whether the governor could/would call a special election for Senate 22 without calling special elections for the three vacant House seats.  (Jason Smith went to Congress; Steve Webb resigned due to charges; Dennis Fowler resigned for an appointment).  Two of the three vacant House seats are held by Republicans.  By keeping them vacant, Governor Jay Nixon is able to reduce the Republican House majority from slightly above a veto-override majority (110) to slightly below a veto override majority (108).  That’s a pretty significant difference.

If the governor cherry-picked his special election calls, Republicans might raise a stink, perhaps even file a lawsuit.  The basis of such a suit would be “21.110. If the governor receives any resignation or notice of vacancy, or if he is satisfied of the death of any member of either house, during the recess, he shall, without delay, issue a writ of election to supply the vacancy.”

However, there’s nothing to prevent such a lawsuit now – even if the governor doesn’t call a special in Senate 22.  Though the conventional wisdom is that the courts would be loathe to order the governor to call a special election.

Regardless such an action might raise the public and political pressure on the governor to act.

Will Guernsey’s Plate-gate Lead to a Primary?

At least two (possibly more) elected Republicans have been urging Rep. TJ Berry to challenge Rep. Casey Guernsey in the Senate 12 primary.  Berry was the sponsor of HB 253, the tax cut bill from last session.

The urgings comes on the heels of recent revelations from Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan about Guernsey’s behavior stemming from his expired license plates.  As tends to happen with these things, once there’s a little publicity about someone’s behavior, others come forward with their stories.

As one observer said, there’s a sense that the behavior in the paper – running in line, condescending attitude to a colleague and voters, lying to a newspaper – is “the tip of the iceberg, and below the surface there’s probably a lot more we’re not seeing.”

Guernsey earlier in the year gave his campaign $100K which immediately catapulted him into the front-runner status in the Senate 12 forecast.

It’s said that Berry is capable of matching Guernsey’s $100K investment.  But my guess is that Guernsey can do much more if necessary.  And it’s unclear if Berry could, or would want to, continue to ante up.

As I noted in the August 16 MOScout when Guernsey’s self-contribution was reported… “It would appear that Guernsey’s family is loaded.  His personal financial disclosure form (thanks Progress Missouri) can be found here.  Note the income from a trust as well as income from three separate family farms.  And probably at this very minute some opp research kid is looking to see if they got farm subsidies…”

Ultimately the biggest unknown here is Congressman Sam Graves and political consultant Jeff Roe.  They carry a pretty big stick up in northwest Missouri.  Guernsey had a stint working for Graves, but some say it’s unclear whether they’re a real bond there.

Flanigan at Mental Health

Susan Flanigan has started as the legislative liaison for the Department of Mental Health. 

From her resume: Flanigan spent time in the Dept. of Mental Health a few decades ago as a coordinator of disaster service in the aftermath of the Great Flood of 1993.  She also served as the communications director for the Missouri Transformation Initiative, a “system-wide transformation of Missouri’s mental health system & services funded via $14 million HHS award to Missouri's Governor’s Office.” 

But the most interesting thing may be what’s not on her resume… sister to future Budget Chair Rep. Tom Flanigan.  It’s said that the two are 180 degrees apart on politics…

Poor Choices

Auditor Tom Schweich released an audit showing that some TANF receiptants were spending their benefits “questionably.”  Here’s the AP story (my thanks to the peerless John Combest).

Pull Quote:  Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich identified about $722,000 of what he called “questionable transactions” out of $96 million in electronic card transactions in 2012 for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

 

That amounts to a mere fraction of a percent of the total dollar value of benefits examined by the auditor’s office, and Schweich said there’s no way of knowing for sure that the benefits were misused. But he said the questionable expenses “could be much more widespread” because auditors also had no way of catching people who cashed benefits at a Missouri bank and then spent them on inappropriate things… House Speaker Tim Jones described the audit’s findings as “simply shocking.”

New Committee

Mavis Thompson started a campaign committee to run for re-election for St. Louis City License Collector.  Her treasurer is lobbyist Mark H Levison.

eMailbag: Student Transfer Leg No Help for Some?

“A legislative ‘solution’ to student transfers is a charade.  In districts like Riverview and Normandy, I doubt is any schools will be accredited; possibly one or two elementaries, each of which might have room for a handful of transfers…”

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:

Rodney Boyd and Brian Grace added Teach for America – St. Louis.

Rich Lamb added Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration.

Steven Tilley added Competitive Energy for Missouri.

Jeffery N Brooks, Cynthia Gamble, Bill Gamble, Jorgen Schlemeier and Sarah Topp deleted Southern Wine and Spirits.

$5K+Contributions

Teamsters Local Union No 688 Political Action Committee - $11,900 from Teamsters D.R.I.V.E. Committee.

Missourians for Tim Jones - $10,000 from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas City PAC.

Lavender for State Rep - $5,001 from JOEPAC.

MO Republican Party - $15,000 from James S McDonnell III.

Civic Progress Action Committee - $175,000 from Civic Progress.

Citizens for Jay Wasson - $10,000 from Big Cedar LLC.

Birthdays

Happy birthday to Rep. Kevin Elmer (43), and former Rep. Dennis Fowler (65).