Jo Mannies

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter.  She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

Our latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast features St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, who’s making his first appearance since taking office more than two years ago.

St. Louis politics has long been a family affair, especially when it comes to the Board of Aldermen. Outgoing Mayor Francis Slay, for example, got his start as the 23rd Ward alderman, and his father was the ward’s Democratic committeeman for 45 years. 

But the power of political families may be waning. Tuesday’s Democratic primary saw two families retain control, while two other families lost and the fourth stepped away entirely.

Missouri’s Democratic U.S. senator, Claire McCaskill, isn’t surprised that she’s already among the prime targets for 2018. Democrats desperately want to get her re-elected and Republicans are committed to knocking her off.

HANNIBAL, Mo. – In a political sense, Missouri Democrats gathered this weekend in enemy territory.

The party’s annual Democrat Days, held in Mark Twain’s hometown, now takes place in the midst of Republican turf.  About three-quarters of the ballots cast last fall in northeast Missouri went for now-President Donald Trump. In the Hannibal area, as in the rest of rural Missouri, no Democrat running for statewide office attracted more than one-third of the vote.

Updated at 12:45 p.m. March 1 with details about voting patterns — For decades, it’s been a given in St. Louis elections: The person who usually wins is of the race — white or black —that has the fewest candidates in the contest.

 

And studies have shown that many St. Louis voters prefer to support candidates of their own race. With that in mind, candidates and political parties often are accused of stacking contests.

But the city’s major mayoral contenders are banking on different dynamics in the March 7 primary.  That’s particularly true of the four best-known Democratic candidates who are African-American.

St. Louis Alderman Lyda Krewson has raised more than $500,000 in just the last month, far more than her Democratic rivals to be the city’s next mayor. But Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed is heading into the final week of campaigning with the most money in the bank.

That’s the two biggest takeaways from the final campaign-finance reports, which were due Monday, for the March 7 primary. 

Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is optimistic that the United States can be the 21st century's leader — unless “Washington messes things up." 

Speaking at Washington University on Monday, Romney said the key is for the U.S. to be “not just strong and powerful, but a nation that is good. Because I’m convinced that goodness is essential to greatness.”

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri’s top Republican leaders, who now control most of state government, said this weekend that it’s time to move past applauding the November victories. Rather, they exhorted supporters at their annual Lincoln Days festivities, it’s time for action.

 


“We won the election. Now, we have to win the agenda,’’ state Republican Party chairman Todd Graves told St. Louis Public Radio on Saturday. “It doesn’t do any good to be elected if we don’t implement the agenda.”

Vice President Mike Pence was nostalgic Wednesday, citing his teenage years working at his family’s gas station to make his point that he, like President Donald Trump, understands business.

 

Updated at 2:30 p.m. April 18 with judge rejecting reinstallation efforts — A federal judge rejected efforts Tuesday to reinstall in the U.S. Capitol a painting some lawmakers and police groups found offensive.

Missouri Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill plans to spend the congressional recess next week tooling along the U.S.-Mexico border.

She said Thursday that her aim is to get a first-hand look at border security issues and the best solutions. 

“Getting border security right is a critical and complex task for keeping our nation secure,” McCaskill said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to hearing directly from the folks on the ground who work on this every day, and seeing firsthand the challenges and successes they see during efforts to secure our border.”

Outgoing St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay will return to his legal roots once he leaves office this spring. He's joining the law firm Spencer Fane, which is opening a St. Louis office.

The stable of lawyers at Spencer Fane already include influential Democratic activist Jane Dueker, who represents a number of major corporate clients, and St. Louis Alderman Jack Coatar, whose district includes downtown.

Several St. Louis mayoral candidates scrambled Monday after they discovered tens of thousands of donations from corporations and unions are barred under the new campaign finance law that Missouri voters approved in November.

Often when a candidate loses a high-profile race, he or she prefers to lay low for a while. That’s not the case for former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander.

It’s been three months since he narrowly lost his bid to oust Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.  Since then, Kander has attracted— and seemingly sought —more national attention than he had during the campaign.

But in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio, the 35-year-old Democrat downplayed the significance. 

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley says he has rented an apartment in Jefferson City, to end accusations from Democrats that he has been violating state law by commuting from his home in Columbia.

At issue is a phrase in state law that requires the Missouri attorney general to reside “at the seat of government.”

Ask most Americans what they think of the Middle East, says former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and their assessment can be boiled down to two words:

“A mess.”

But Albright, who served under President Bill Clinton, says the Trump administration’s travel ban has just made things worse.

Addressing Nerinx Hall high school students on Wednesday, Albright called the ban “one of the worst things I’ve seen’’ during her years as a diplomat.

Most of the candidates vying to become St. Louis' first new mayor in 16 years are focusing on the city’s problems more than its successes.

Their forums frequently discuss the 253-year-old city's long-lasting crime and race issues, or how best to improve the city’s neighborhoods and bolster downtown. 

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' first state budget targets higher education for more cuts — $160 million less than the current spending plan. 

In effect, the Republican is continuing such cuts that he made shortly after taking office last month.

Greitens' general revenue budget, which funds most state services, calls for spending about $345 million more than in the current fiscal year.  But acting state budget director Dan Haug said  Thursday that a number of state departments will see a total of about $600 million less than what they currently receive.

St. Louis mayoral candidate Lyda Krewson appears to be heading into the final stretch of the primary contest with a huge financial edge over her Democratic rivals.

Krewson’s latest report, filed Thursday, shows the 28th Ward alderman with $576,199.41 in the bank.  She began running TV ads on Wednesday. A spokesman says she will be running the ads until the March 7 primary. About a quarter of Krewson's money was raised during the last three weeks.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley plans to be in court today to support a federal lawsuit that challenges former President Barack Obama’s order to expand the nation’s overtime rules to cover about 4 million more workers.

It’s the second time Hawley has targeted the federal government since he took office Jan. 9 – and in line with his campaign pledge to challenge any federal action that he believes is illegal or against Missouri’s interests.

Updated Jan. 26 with Senate approval of right-to-work bill - The Missouri Senate has approved a bill to make Missouri a "right-to-work state,'' but a fight could still loom with the House over what union contracts would be affected.

(Updated January 18)  Members of the Missouri House have taken a big step toward delivering a right-to-work law to Missouri.

On Wednesday, the House initially passed state Rep. Holly Rehder’s legislation, which would bar unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues. The Sikeston Republican’s bill, which passed 101-58, also paves the way for criminal penalties for anybody that violates the proposal.

(Updated with Wednesday's Senate hearing) Heartened by the November election, Missouri’s abortion opponents are considering a raft of bills – some old, some new – to expand the state’s restrictions on abortion-related matters and their enforcement.

The measures could heighten Missouri’s longstanding status as a key battleground when it comes to abortion rights.  A state Senate committee examined four of them Wednesday.

When Eric Greitens took the oath of office as Missouri’s new governor today, he ushered in an era of complete Republican control of the state’s legislative and executive branches. It’s an opportunity that many members of the GOP are relishing – even though some warn that the party risks taking all the blame if it can’t govern to Missourians’ liking.

Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens is showing right off the bat that he’s eager to break with tradition. He’s nixing the traditional inaugural parade – featuring high school bands and convertibles – that in the past has snaked through Jefferson City before the swearing-in ceremony, set for Jan. 9 at noon.

Instead, a spokesman told reporters Thursday that Greitens plans to review a formation of National Guard troops on the grounds of the state Capitol.

Stunned by the magnitude of their Election Day losses, Missouri’s Democratic leaders are taking stock as they seek to regroup.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she’s in the midst of “a listening tour’’ to gauge where she and other party activists went wrong, and what needs to be done. But McCaskill emphasized in an interview that she doesn’t buy into the narrative that Missouri Democrats were punished at the polls for ignoring rural voters and working-class whites.

In the early years of his political career,  U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt had a reputation as a reformer. 

In 1992, Blunt — then Missouri secretary of state — ran a stunning ad that accused fellow Republican Bill Webster of engaging in “pay to play” in the Missouri attorney general’s office.

Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum welcomes back Democratic state treasurer hopeful Judy Baker to the program.

The Columbia Democrat is running against state Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, in the contest to succeed state Treasurer Clint Zweifel. Zweifel is unable to run again, because the treasurer’s office is term-limited. 

Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

Eric Schmitt, the GOP candidate for Missouri treasurer, joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies for the latest Politically Speaking podcast

Schmitt, a state senator from Glendale, faces Democrat Judy Baker on Nov. 8. Baker also has been featured on Politically Speaking.

Missouri’s two major candidates for governor disagree on many things. But Democrat Chris Koster and Republican Eric Greitens do share similar views on the dueling tobacco-tax hike proposals on the Nov. 8 ballot. They oppose both of them.

That opposition could be significant, since whoever is elected governor will likely have significant roles in implementation of any of the six ballot measures that go before voters. Here’s a rundown on where Greitens and Koster stand on those issues, including some of their observations.

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