Game Summary

Let’s see where we are now, four days before filing begins for statewide offices and the legislature. It sometimes helps reporters and news consumers to compile a list of statements that tries to add order to what otherwise is, well, chaos at some level.  In sports press boxes, this might be called the game summary so far.

If you want to file for a state senate seat next Tuesday morning, you will not know whether your filing is legal or in what district you will  live.  The citizens commission that drew the new lines has to wait 15 days, well past the opening of filing, to take public comment before it can confirm its 8-2 vote establishing the map.

If you want to file for a seat in the Missouri House you will not know if your filing will be legal and what district you will live in. The Supreme Court will hold a hearing on Monday, the day before filing starts, to consider whether House districts drawn by a panel of judges should go into effect.

If you want to run for Congress, you won’t know if your filing will be legal or  what Congressional district to file in because the Supreme Court has not ruled on whether a map drawn by another panel of judges is constitutional.

Why doesn’t somebody do the sensible thing and delay the date for filing to start?

Senator Mike Parson introduced a bill to do just that and it passed the senate.  The House changed the date for opening and sent the bill back to the senate.  P:arson recommended the senate approve that change.

Problem solved!!!   Accept the House change and Tuesday Chaos won’t happen.,

Didn’t happen.

A few Senators who have developed considerable knots in their knickers because they don’t like the way the citizens commission redrew senatorial districts in the St. Louis area convinced Parsons to pull his bill from the floor until the commission returns to Jefferson City this weekend to redraw the St. Louis districts, preferably in a way the St. Louis Senators (of both parties) suggested they be drawn.   And when the commission does that, then the senate can approve the bill delaying filing.  The Senate returns Monday afternoon when the senate comes back at 4 p.m., all of 16 hours before hundreds of people could show up at the Secretary of State’s office to file for districts that would not be in effect even if the commission does redraw the lines this weekend.  For the senate districts.  And the commission isn’t going to do that.

Further, only God and the Supreme Court know whether there will be congressional and Missouri House districts by Tuesday.

Somehow Parson’s apple has wound up in a bag of oranges being swung around by some upset St. Louis senators.

The chairman of the citizens commission told us minutes after the Senate adjourned Thursday that the commission absolutely would not re-convene. He says the map the St. Louis senators want the commission to endorse is illegal and doesn’t work with the rest of the state. He says sitting senators are not constitutionally permitted to be members of the citizens commission and that it would be a violation of the commission’s constitutional responsibility to draw the maps if it let the St. Louis group dictate how their districts should look.

One senator says the St. Louis area is the economic engine of the state and cannot lose representation in the Senate.   But, says the chairman of the commission, the “economic engine” has lost a lot of people in the last decade and it’s census numbers that determine representation in the Senate. And the census numbers indicate the St. Louis area is going to lose one seat.

The fun might continue if the senate returns on Monday and does not pass the Parson bill.  Secretary of State Robin Carnahan says she will have no choice but to let people file for office Tuesday morning in the existing House, Senate, and Congressional districts (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t burst forth with some rulings upholding new district lines).

If she does, look for a federal lawsuit to be filed almost immediately.  Population shifts in the ten years since those districts were drawn leave them badly out of balance, violating the one-person, one-vote federal standard.  And of course that means that those who have filed in those districts are not seeking office in a constitutional district.

As nearly as we can tell, the legislature has not yet affected the filing for U. S. Senate, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Treasurer.

Now what, Rick?

One might think that Rick Santorum accomplished something Tuesday in the Missouri presidential primary.  He won every county plus the cities of Kansas City and St. Louis.  He had more than twice as many votes as Mitt Romney.  He also won in Colorado and Minnesota that day.

But he really has not won anything yet as far as Missouri’s role in the national Republican convention is concerned.

Missouri’s delegates will be picked in county and district caucuses in coming weeks and those people will decide which candidate they will be pledged to support at the big meeting.

Senator Blunt, who carries no little weight with Missouri Republicans, congratulated his “good friend” Rick Santorum on his big win Tuesday night.  But Blunt also said he still thinks Romney is the best choice Republicans have for defeating President Obama in November.

After all, Santorum was the only major Republican candidate to campaign in Missouri.  He skipped Florida last week to be with his ailing daughter but started campaigning here while his competitors were still occupied with Florida.   Romney didn’t campaign in Missouri at all and has had little personal presence here throughout the campaign so far and he still got more than 25 percent of the vote.

Santorum told the crowd in St. Charles last Tuesday night that Missourians haven’t seen the last of him.  He is acutely conscious of our caucuses. And caucuses are often influenced by who shows up.

More than 50,000 Republicans voted for somebody other than Santorum or Romney last Tuesday.  About sixty percent of those non-Santorum/Romney votes went to Ron Paul–30,641. Another 10,000 people said in the election that they were “uncommitted.”

Compare those 50,000 to this statistic from 1996, the last year when caucuses were used to pick delegates: The Secretary of State says caucuses that year drew only 20,000 people. And do you remember who came out the leader after those caucuses?  Pat Buchanan’s people showed up in greater strength than did supporters of Bob Dole, the eventual nominee. Who is most likely to be the P:at Buchanan of Missouri’s 2012 caucuses? Something tells us the Paulists like this kind of climate.

Santorum clobbered everybody else in the popular vote.  But the caucuses are going to be a version of the electoral college in the process this year and we know that in the electoral college, the popular vote sometimes means nothing.

Santorum, in effect, won the air war.  But the battle in the trenches will determine whether he won anything at all. The history of land warfare indicates the winner is the one with the most troops who show up for battle, who has the best strategy for mobilizing them, and whose field commanders make the best decisions in the field.

Forget Dancing With the Stars for a few weeks.   Dancing for Delegates will be much more entertaining.

Your vote. A waste of money?

Well, under the circumstances, yes, says Senator Kevin Engler of Farmington. Emphatically. Loudly.

Never, says Senator Brad Lager of Maryville, also loudly. Passionately.

Here’s what set off these two in a noisy match in the state senate yesterday morning.

Missouri had a presidential preference primary yesterday that the state Republican committee had decided last fall would not have any value in deciding which presidential candidate Missouri’s GOP convention delegation will back. Those decisions will be made in caucuses at the local and district level and if we are to believe the state GOP, this election will carry no weight at all. The final national convention delegates will be picked at the state convention.

This whole situation that has Republicans shouting at each other surely must be somebody’s fault. In fact it’s everybody’s fault and it’s nobody’s fault and it’s just circumstances and it’s bad timing and it’s…

New Hampshire’s fault. Or maybe it’s Iowa’s fault.

Let’s try to walk through this primary-ordial swamp beginning with Iowa and New Hampshire, two states that ferociously guard their “first in the nation” status in each presidential campaign year. But other states keep asking, “Why should they get all the fun?” Some other states decided to horn in on the “first” business and that became rather unseemly. In the end, the national GOP decided there were too many states having primaries too early. Missouri got the orders: move your primary back by a month or your convention delegation will be penalized.

The legislature sent the governor a bill last spring taking care of the issue. But the legislature overdid things, adding a provision that Governor Nixon found objectionable. He vetoed the bill and told legislative leaders that if they sent him a stand-alone primary election postponement bill in the special session, he’d sign it.

What could be simpler?

Some Republicans got their knickers in a knot and blew off a lot of steam about the national party having no business telling Missouri what to do with its presidential primary and that pushing it back a month would mean our primary would be useless because all the fun would be over by then and the candidates wouldn’t come here and spend money–if there were any candidates left by March other than the person who’s going to get the nomination. Some suggested cancelling the primary. Some suggested telling the national party to find a place where the moon sheds no light and vigorously placing its orders therein. There was much huffing and puffing and although some of the Republicans talked about cancelling the entire primary for 2012 to save six million dollars, they… dropped the ball.

Nothing got done. The state party, faced with the edict from the big folks upstairs, couldn’t wait for the Republican legislators to do something because a deadline had been given. The state party said, “Forget the primary. We’re going to hold caucuses.” And the cancellation effort disappeared into the fog.

So we kept the primary, despite all of the huffing and puffing. The failure of the legislators who are complaining now that the primary was a waste of money failed to act last fall when they could have avoided that waste and now they’re ranting and fuming while others in the party are defending the right of voters to express a preference even if that expression might mean nothing and even though the voters might not understand that their expression meant nothing and saying there’s nothing wrong with spending six million dollars so citizens can have their say at the ballot box, a sacred part of being an American. Or something like that.

And some of those defending the right of the voters to speak are blaming the state party for lacking the testicular capacity to tell the national party to seek out that moonless vista.
So we had the election yesterday. And 326,231 people voted. And some candidates got more votes than others.

Despite all the stumbling and fumbling and fuming and shouting in the capitol, thousands of Missourians sought out a quiet place yesterday and exercised a right the legislature was too inept to take away from them. Statewide turnout was only eight percent. Not bad considering all the time various political figures spent telling voters their votes won’t make a difference. Apparently 326,231 Missourians have a different set of values.

I was one of the people who spent about a minute in one of those quiet places. It’s none of your business how I voted or what ballot I took or whether I voted for a tax proposition Jefferson City had on the ballot or whether I voted for a presidential candidate. But I voted. Because I could.

Those of us who sit at the Senate press table have gotten to see all of this discussion about whether I could vote up close. That’s one of the great things about being a reporter. We get to watch a system of government that is the worst kind of government—except all of the others that have been tried (as Winston Churchill noted). And then, if we choose, we get to be more than observes in the most basic way regardless of the cost of our opportunity to do so.

Some 326,131 people voted yesterday. I was that “1.” And so were all the others. The state spends seven million dollars on a lot of things that are less important.