St. Louis Oracle

St. Louis-based political forecasting plus commentary on politics and events from a grassroots veteran with a mature, progressive anti-establishment perspective.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's with Russ?

Monday of last week I went to a special meeting of our neighborhood association that was billed as a candidate night, featuring appearances by Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan and his Republican challenger, Ed Martin. Over 100 neighborhood folks attended. But Carnahan did not.

Martin did appear personally, and he spoke first, for 10-15 minutes, without notes. He came off looking reasonable, addressing the need to produce new jobs and conceding the existence of good parts of the cap-and-trade and health care bills that he opposes (and Carnahan had voted for), and explaining why he opposed them. He did better than I had expected.

Next, Carnahan was represented by Erv Switzer (shown above), an attorney who lives in the neighborhood. He spoke right after Martin and mentioned how much Carnahan likes the neighborhood and how some of the appropriations Carnahan had supported helped the neighborhood, and then after about three minutes he was done. Switzer made a nice appearance and was articulate in what little he said (realistically a better appearance and more articulate than Carnahan himself would have been), but he wasn’t who the audience had come to see.

The audience had come to hear why the recession that began in 2007 is still raging three years later, even a year and a half after passage of the stimulus package that the Obama Administration proposed and the congressman supported. They wanted straight talk about how the new health care bill would impact their Medicare and what impact cap-and-trade, if enacted, would have on their utility bills and other energy costs. They heard Martin’s take, but nothing from their congressman.

So where was Russ? This was the night before the mysterious “firebombing” of his campaign finance office, so he wasn’t preoccupied with that. The joint forum was organized by the neighborhood organization, not Martin’s campaign. While it was Martin’s home neighborhood, the meeting wasn’t exactly a lion’s den. Carnahan had carried the neighborhood as long as he had been the incumbent, as had President Obama and the entire Democratic ticket in 2008. Claire McCaskill also carried it when she unseated Republican Sen. Jim Talent in 2006. The event should have been low risk for the congressman. But he sent a representative who spoke for all of three minutes instead.

What’s going on? Carnahan can win the safely Democratic 3rd congressional district without winning Martin’s southwest St. Louis neighborhood, as he did when he defeated Bill Federer by 8 points for the open seat after a contentious 10-way primary in 2004, but why take that risk? Why is Carnahan just phoning it in?


Anonymous Jim Frisella, 16th Ward Democrat said...

I have enjoyed and agreed with
many of your statements on your blog.
However, I still do NOT understand the logic of supporting outsiders, that do NOT know the district, lived in it very long or not at all, had little or NO legislatetive experience like Jeff Smith and Ed Martin.
Look what we got with Smith????
Although I believe Martin, who is a neighbor is a likable young man; We do not know much about him and above all he doesn't have much experience. In addition, he doesn't show much desire to "serve the People". He gives many of us natives in the area, a definite feeling, that he is a "Young man in a hurrry", and will listen to "Big Money" ONLY, and not "to the people" of the district.

Jim Frisella, 16th Ward Democrat

July 24, 2011 at 2:21 AM  

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