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.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A 'Jeff Smith guy' voting for Ed Martin

Back in the Republican sweep year of 1972 (the year George McGovern picked Missouri Sen. Tom Eagleton for vice-president and then dumped him), a young Democrat named Tom Villa, son of legendary 11th Ward Alderman Red Villa, waited in the wings to launch his political career. His home turf had just been redistricted into a state rep district represented by 24-year incumbent Joe Beckerle. But an incredible thing happened. Joe Fendler, cousin to Democrat Bud Fendler in a neighboring district, filed against Beckerle as a Republican and beat him. Then, two years later, Fendler mysteriously retired after just one term, and the open seat became easy pickins for the young Villa. The district (situated entirely east of Morganford, including most of Villa’s 11th Ward) was hostile turf for a Republican even in 1972. I can’t verify it, but rumors persist that Fendler had the secret support of the Villa organization to eliminate Beckerle, so that young Villa could avoid having to face him in a primary.

Fast forward to 2010. Missouri’s 3rd congressional district is a Democratic bastion represented by Russ Carnahan, an embarrassing scion of a Rolla-based political dynasty. He is the Democrat version of George W. Bush: impressively educated thanks to family connections, yet dumb as a box of rocks. His progressive voting record is the result of his doing what he’s told. (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls him “low maintenance.”) Democrats desperately need an articulate defender of the merits of the legislation this Congress has passed, and the 3rd District is a safely Democratic platform from which to do so, but Russ isn’t capable enough to do that. In at least two personal appearances, his gaffes have drawn spontaneous audience guffaws that were embarrassing enough to be aired nationally on Fox News. Repeatedly. One of the reasons that the U.S. Senate campaign of his sister, Robin Carnahan, is doing so poorly against a seemingly vulnerable Republican is that Russ has damaged the brand of both the Carnahan name and the Democratic Party.

It’s time to “pull a Villa.” Democrats will never unseat an incumbent Carnahan in a primary. But what if Republican Ed Martin were to ride the building Republican wave to upset Russ this year? Martin would be a one-termer, because he won’t stand a chance with the very different mix of voters that will likely reelect President Obama in 2012. The overwhelmingly Democratic complexion of the district (which Obama won by 21 points over John McCain) means that a Martin win here would not represent the magic 39th seat that Republicans need to seize control of the House. Even with progressive “help,” a Martin win would still only be possible if it were part of a Republican wave that capsizes at least 75 Democrat seats. That now seems possible.

I admit, I supported progressive firebrand Jeff Smith over Carnahan when the seat was open in 2004. Carnahan later reported Smith to the Federal Election Commission to start a series of events than regrettably led to Smith’s conviction and incarceration, but that old sore isn’t my reason for picking a Republican over him now. (Although many progressives hold “snitches” in low regard, I don’t subscribe to that tenet.) It’s just a matter of voting strategically. Carnahan is a terrible representative and getting worse, and this year is realistically our last chance to use Republicans to knock him off. Demographic changes will keep the GOP in the minority for years to come starting in 2012, so we have to clean house now.

That’s why the Oracle will cast a strategic vote for Ed Martin for Congress on November 2. In the privacy of your voting booth, please join me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How likely is Russ' district to get gerrymandered out of existence before the next term? Seems like a sacrifice play without much potential payback, since a Martin may not be defending a seat that's nearly blue as the one he wins.

October 25, 2010 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger St. Louis Oracle said...

While Republicans dream about redistricting Russ out of existence, just like they did when Gephardt had the seat, that is unlikely to happen. Gov. Jay Nixon (D) can veto any Republican plan. In order to override the veto, Republicans need 20 more seats than they already have, and most of the open seats are already theirs. If there's deadlock, federal judges draw the lines, and they are unlikely to produce a Republican gerrymander. If MO loses a seat to reapportionment, the judges would probably eliminate the 4th, represented either by freshman Republican Vicky Hartzler or a likely-to-retire Ike Skelton.

Even if Republicans could control redistricting (which they haven't done since 1920), it would be difficult to make the 3rd Republican without putting other incumbents at risk. If they gave Martin too much of west county, Akin's district would have to get more rural, which would jeopardize him in a primary. The 3rd could expand into more rural territory to the south, but Washington and Iron Counties are fairly Democratic territory.

The most important factor in 2012 is the political environment, which I expect to be 180 degrees different than this year. After two years of Republican deadlock and the sure return of young and minority voters who sit this year out, the Democrat wave of 2012 will be a tough one for Martin to survive in any conceivable configuration of his district. Especially if Democrats take the opportunity to put up somebody better than Carnahan. It's our chance to upgrade to somebody really good.

October 25, 2010 at 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, so you're one of those "progressives" who thinks that we should empower the tea party and hand over control of the House to Republicans because of your own petty personal grudges. I'm totally convinced that you are "progressive." Thanks for the great advice.

October 26, 2010 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger St. Louis Oracle said...

Chill, dude! I don't advocate turning the House over to Republicans, just this one seat out of 435, for one term only. One seat in desperate need of an upgrade.

If elected, Martin won't be the deciding seat on House control. Next Tuesday is going to be brutal, and all Martin's win would do would be to pad the GOP margin by one.

October 27, 2010 at 12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oracle, I concur with you as always. At Rusty's request and constant begging, I worked to help elect him to succeed my former great boss Rep. Gephardt. He is a disappointment to his family and to the Democratic Party and his wife is just plain a horrible, obese, drunk. Rusty's senior staff, including his former CoS, are as incapable and disgraceful as he is.

Remember Jeff's state senate victory party? Those were the days of immense optimism that potentially we could find young, smart, real progressives who could talk and make policy effectively.

When Missouri loses a congressional seat, seemingly the 1st and 3rd Districts would merge. That is why Lacy has hired Lou Aboussie on his staff for a year to prepare for a clash with Rusty as the Aboussie's despise the Carnahans. Moreover, Mayor Slay dislikes Rusty immensely (he liked Jeff) and he has shown a lot of love to Ed Martin. Word around the campfire is that a Martin win helps Slay clear Carnahan out of the way as well for his potential congressional run. At the end of the day, we nned to vote Russ out!

October 30, 2010 at 4:03 PM  
Anonymous Norm Pressman said...

You annoymous people are by defintition gutless.

Russ Carnahan nd his family have stood for bed rock Democratic liberal principles period.

Granted Nixopn and McCaskill m,ay be more inspiring speakers but who has a better record?

Its like Hillary Clinton said-during the 2008 election-do we want a lofty speak or results.

October 31, 2010 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger St. Louis Oracle said...

I try not to impose censorship, but please observe a few rules. I deleted a comment that was a personal attack on one of the commenters. Candidates are fair game, but not my other readers (unless confined to their conduct on this blog). Leave candidates' families out of it too (unless germane to the campaign. Stimulus money to a brother is fair game, but someone's personal appearance is not). I was tempted to delete the comment that smeared Russ' wife (and I do condemn that portion of the comment here and now), and only left it in because I thought the comment's other points were worthy of mention, whether I agreed with them or not. If I could (or knew how to) edit offensive stuff out of other people's comments (with appropriate disclosure of the redaction), I would.

November 1, 2010 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger St. Louis Oracle said...

Norm Pressman has requested that I go ahead and repost the comment that took a shot at him personally and which I deleted, so he could respond. So here's the previously deleted comment:

"Waa Waa Norm. Just because you make your money on the misfortunes of others and advertise it doesn't mean we don't also live in the same free country you do and can enjoy our first amendment rights to tell the truth about our crappy legislators who couldn't get a real job if they or their wives lives depended on it. Do you hear that Norm, that is all of us laughing our asses off when Russ loses a +7 DPI district."

And here is Norm's response:

"Yes you do have first amendment rights-I'm not questioning your right to post things anonymously just suggesting that you are a gutless chick for not using your name. As far as how I make my living-suppose you were correct would that affect the accuracy of my statement? If you'd like to know what I do for a living perhaps you'd like to have a beer after election day and I'll tell you."

But still, let's keep it civil.

November 1, 2010 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Norm said...


I missed your comment about Martin's bogus fraud claims. Forget about all the campaign charges and countercharges if the election was held tommorrow would you vote for a guy that even Peter Kinder thinks is out of his mind?

November 3, 2010 at 8:53 PM  

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