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.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The coffee flowed, sweet rolls abounded and the candidates flooded in.

Tuesday marks the kickoff of candidate filing in Missouri for the August and November elections. And in Missouri’s state capital, it’s a tradition for candidates to pack the secretary of state’s building to try to become the first on the ballot for their particular office.

When it comes to Gov. Eric Greitens’ legal troubles, the split among Missouri Republicans was obvious Monday during back-to-back news conferences.

Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Republican from Poplar Bluff, announced that he has set up a bipartisan committee to investigate the issues surrounding the governor’s indictment Thursday for allegedly taking a photo of a partially nude woman without her consent.

Right after the speaker’s brief event, two St. Louis area lawmakers held a rival news conference that urged the governor to resign.

Missouri Republicans are split over what to do about Gov. Eric Greitens, a fellow Republican who’s been indicted for felony invasion of privacy after allegedly taking a semi-nude photo of a woman without her consent.

The state Republican Party contends that the indictment is “a political hit job’’ engineered by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, a Democrat. But there are increasing calls from GOP lawmakers, especially in the state Senate, for Greitens to at least consider stepping down.

For Missouri Democrats, success or failure this fall will likely hinge on whether they can persuade about 300,000 area voters to drop their habit of skipping mid-term elections.

Most of those infrequent voters are believed to be  urban and suburban Democrats. And their absence at the polls in 2010 and 2014 are among the reasons why the state’s Democrats have found themselves seriously outnumbered in the Missouri Capitol.

Which helps explain why the state party set up an unusual schedule for Minnesota U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who’s vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, when he flew into St. Louis earlier this month.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has hired a new lawyer – former St. Louis Judge Jack Garvey – to represent him in the investigation underway by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.

Gardner is looking into whether Greitens broke any laws during his admitted extramarital affair, which took place in 2015, more than a year before the governor was elected.

Garvey, who also is a former St. Louis alderman, confirmed Sunday to St. Louis Public Radio that he now represented the governor. Garvey said he was hired “late last week.” Garvey said he was not representing any members of the governor’s staff, some of whom apparently have been subpoenaed by Gardner’s office.

Updated with Democratic counter-ad:   Another wave of conservative ads blasting U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill will be airing this week on Missouri TV stations and the internet.

For U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, the political question may well be whether lightning can strike twice.

In Missouri, 2012 was shaping up to be a strong Republican election year when the party’s U.S. Senate nominee, Todd Akin, went on St. Louis TV station Fox2 and offered up his opinion regarding why an abortion ban wouldn’t affect rape victims:

“If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has  ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” 

Now, some in both parties wonder if a replay is looming.

Updated Feb. 5 at 3:55 p.m. with "St. Louis on the Air" segmentKANSAS CITY, Mo. – With federal tax cuts leading the way, some top Missouri Republicans predict they’re on a path to a stronger election-year showing than many critics have predicted.

“I expect it to be a good year for Republicans in Missouri, “ said U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, who hosted Saturday’s breakfast at the state Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Days festivities, held this year in downtown Kansas City.

“It seemed like when the tax bill passed in December, it was almost like a light switch flipped on,” Blunt explained.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has bankrolled $1.2 million so far for his GOP bid to oust U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is regarded as among the nation’s most vulnerable Senate Democrats.

But Hawley’s fundraising pace is well behind that of McCaskill, who has amassed more cash than almost all other U.S. senators in the country on this fall’s ballot.

To some of his critics, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s strained relations with many members of the County Council is payback.

During his last years as the 6th District councilman, it wasn’t unusual for Stenger to publicly joust with then-Executive Charlie Dooley at council meetings. Stenger won their 2014 confrontation at the polls.

But now, others see a broader conflict over power and who wields it.  Stenger and the council continue to battle over a variety of issues as this year’s November elections loom. Their feud has gone on for over a year.

Former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch is pledging to accept no campaign donations for his Republican campaign for St. Louis County Council. And if elected this fall, he says he’ll work for a county charter change that would limit campaign donations for county officials.

At his campaign kickoff today in Sunset Hills, Fitch blamed the lack of donation limits for some of the rancor between council members and County Executive Steve Stenger.  He contends that large contributions to Stenger, in particular, have exacerbated some of the disputes.

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies welcomes St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas on the program for the first time.

The Republican from south St. Louis County was elected to the 6th District council seat in 2016. He represents a part of largely unincorporated south St. Louis, which means that he makes many of the development and zoning decisions for the area.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is continuing his pace as one of  Missouri’s top money-raisers among the non-congressional candidates, but Democratic rival Mark Mantovani appears to be edging up fast.

Stenger’s latest campaign-finance report, filed Tuesday, shows that he raised almost $520,000 during the past three months for his re-election bid later this year.  

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, raised more money during that same period. Greitens collected close to $630,000 and reported almost $2.8 million in his state campaign committee.

Almost 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, the key focus of area civil rights leaders is to keep the national leader’s legacy — and message — alive for a new generation.

Which helps explain why state Rep. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis, sought to rev up Monday’s annual event at the Old Courthouse to mark King’s birthday. Amid all the songs and speeches, Franks focused on the importance of action.

Amid a sex scandal that threatens his political future, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has canceled plans to hold an event Tuesday in St. Peters to promote his tax-cut proposal.

 

Greitens was scheduled to appear at Arrowhead Building Supply, which provides building materials to contractors.

Updated January 11 at 4:20 p.m. with Gardner investigation —  Missouri House and Senate Republican leaders issued almost identical statements of concern Thursday as they otherwise declined comment on the sex scandal swirling around Gov. Eric Greitens.

Using the bad weather as an excuse, most lawmakers fled the state Capitol, and both chambers adjourned swiftly until next Tuesday.

However, a bipartisan group of senators – all frequent critics of the governor – announced they were sending a letter asking state Attorney General Josh Hawley to investigate the matter.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens used his State of the State address Wednesday to announce a proposal to cut state taxes this year, even as the state budget is still adjusting to earlier state and federal tax cuts that are just now going into effect.

St. Louis County Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger, a Republican from Huntleigh, is giving serious thought to challenging County Executive Steve Stenger this year.

She will have to make a decision soon. Candidate filing begins Feb. 27 and lasts only a month.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is slashing the County Council’s plan to increase its own spending, in apparent retaliation for how the council cut the budgets for most county departments.

Stenger’s executive order, issued Wednesday, adds fuel to his ongoing fight with the council — especially chairman Sam Page, a fellow Democrat — on various issues.

With the federal tax overhaul now law, Missouri’s political candidates in both parties are highlighting their support or opposition to the measure as they try to appeal to voters as the 2018 campaign cycle gets underway.

State Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, is particularly aggressive in using the tax law for his initial attacks against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.

Heightened tensions between Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and fellow Republicans who control the General Assembly will likely add drama when the 2018 legislative session begins next Wednesday.

Because 2018 is an election year, it’s long been assumed that lawmakers will avoid divisive topics that could upset voters. But that might not be possible this time.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt has at least two predictions heading into 2018:

The Missouri Republican expects the public will warm up to the new federal tax overhaul as more see fatter paychecks in the coming months. And he also believes that the GOP will avoid dealing with the nation’s popular entitlement programs –Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security – until Democrats gain more political power.

Missouri’s closely watched U.S. Senate contest may be 11 months away, but a flood of outside groups already are jumping in to aid or oppose Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill or her best-known GOP rival, state Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Most of these groups do not have to identify their donors or can delay that reporting until well into 2018.  And many plan to concentrate their activities on social media platforms such as Facebook -- not television.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is looking into whether Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration may be violating the state’s Sunshine Law.

It’s in response to a Kansas City Star report that the Republican governor and his staff use a phone application that automatically deletes text messages.

The St. Louis County Council’s decision to draw up and approve its own budget ends a longstanding practice of allowing the county executive’s administration to craft a spending blueprint.

The big question now is what will happen next.

The St. Louis County Council has slashed $31 million dollars from County Executive Steve Stenger's 2018 budget proposal, a move rarely seen in the region’s largest jurisdiction.

Stenger was caught off-guard when he learned of the council’s plans shortly before it convened Tuesday night. Soon after, the seven members voted 6 - 1 to approve Council Chairman Sam Page's substitute budget. 

Updated Tuesday, Dec. 12: With the Missouri General Assembly slated to convene in a few weeks, the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis is scrambling in case state lawmakers decide to intervene in the region’s long-standing debate over a possible merger of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

The St. Louis County Council voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of a resolution -- signed by at least 50 area municipalities -- that opposes any sort of  statewide vote on the matter. The St. Louis Board of Aldermen could face a similar request shortly.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling for the Missouri Veterans Commission – which he has reconfigured with five new members – to meet this week and fire the panel’s executive director and the head of a state veterans home in north St. Louis County.

At a news conference Monday outside the facility, Greitens said he also is ordering an examination of all state veterans homes in the wake of an independent study by a private health care firm that determined a “substandard quality of care’’ at the 300-bed St. Louis Veterans Home in Bellefontaine Neighbors.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch blames “political vindictiveness’’ for the County Council’s decision to get rid of a pension increase for his job that it had approved last year.

Council Chairman Sam Page says the issue is fairness.


 

As President Donald Trump makes a pitch Wednesday for a federal tax overhaul, he plans to cast the city of St. Charles as an example of the “Main Street economy’’ he wants to help flourish across the country.

That’s the word from senior White House officials, who briefed regional reporters ahead of time on Trump’s key topics during an address Wednesday afternoon at the St. Charles Convention Center.

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