Jo Mannies | KBIA

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.

The St. Louis County Council is again planning to ask voters for its own lawyer so the council does not have to rely on the county counselor for legal representation.

Council Chairman Sam Page says the body often gets poor legal advice because Counselor Peter Krane reports to County Executive Steve Stenger.

The council voted 6-1 Thursday to approve a proposed charter change that would go before county voters in April. Voters narrowly rejected a proposal last summer that would have allowed the council to hire its own lawyer.

It’s going to be awhile before medical marijuana will be available to Missouri patients.

The timetable imposed by Amendment 2 – which Missouri voters overwhelmingly backed in November – will likely give the state close to a year before pot in its various forms will be legally available for patients.

Dr. Patricia Hurford, a Kirkwood-based physician, is optimistic that the wait will be worth it. She also practices in Illinois, which has had a medical-marijuana program in place for several years.

With a revolutionary year in Missouri politics winding down, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann decided to reflect on what happened and why it matters.

And what better way to do that than a list of the five biggest stories of 2018?

Senate President Pro Tem-elect Dave Schatz joins Politically Speaking to talk about issues that may arise during the 2019 legislative session.

Schatz is a Sullivan Republican who represents all of Franklin County and most of western St. Louis County. He won a contested race for president pro tem in November, meaning he’ll appoint committee chairs and direct legislation to certain committees.

St. Louis County Council members Sam Page and Hazel Erby join the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast to talk about the tumultuous year in St. Louis County government.

Page, D-Creve Coeur, and Erby, D-University City, are the chair and co-chair, respectively, of the council. They’ve held those positions for two years amid tensions with St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.

Missouri’s U.S. Senator-elect Josh Hawley has snagged some plum Senate committee assignments for a newcomer, possibly signaling his strong ties to the chamber’s GOP leadership.

Hawley, a former law professor, will serve on the Senate's Committee on the Judiciary, which means he’ll have a say in any future judicial nominations by President Donald Trump. That includes any future Supreme Court vacancies.

Hawley also has been named to the Armed Services and Homeland Security panels, in effect replacing the state influence on those panels of outgoing Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat he defeated in November.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill predicts there won’t be any congressional action – beyond symbolic votes – to protect or replace the Affordable Care Act before she leaves office.

And she’s not sure whether a government shutdown can be avoided, if President Donald Trump wants it.

McCaskill, a Democrat, said in an interview for St. Louis on the Air that she isn’t surprised by Friday’s ruling by a Texas judge to toss out the entire Affordable Care Act, although she disagrees with his decision.

It appears to be up to Missouri’s last remaining statewide Democrat – Auditor Nicole Galloway – to investigate the validity of allegations of campaign violations made against outgoing state Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Galloway said Friday that she’ll comply with the request of Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a Republican who initially had been charged with examining a formal complaint filed against Hawley.

The complaint alleges Hawley, also a Republican, used public money to support his Senate bid against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill. Hawley defeated McCaskill and will take office in January.

Money wasn’t everything when it came to Missouri’s nationally watched U.S. Senate contest.

Republican Josh Hawley is the state’s first Senate winner in decades to be dramatically outspent by the rival he defeated.

And the Democrat who lost, two-term incumbent Claire McCaskill, set a huge fundraising and spending record in the state.

Outgoing Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley highlighted his office’s ongoing cases Thursday, as he prepares to soon hand over operations to state Treasurer Eric Schmitt.

At a joint news conference, the two Republicans emphasized some of their mutual concerns and commitments. Schmitt will become attorney general when Hawley steps down to take on his new job as a member of the U.S. Senate. He defeated Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in November.

When U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill claimed during her campaign that she was the top target of conservative groups, she turned out to be right.

McCaskill, a Democrat, was hit with $39.5 million in attack ads by outside groups – more than any other Senate candidate in the country in the Nov. 6 election.

Republican Josh Hawley, the Republican who defeated McCaskill, was the target of $31.6 million in outside spending. Almost $30 million of it was used in attack ads against him.

Veteran Democrat Mike Jones – who has played significant roles in St. Louis and St. Louis County government – joins Politically Speaking to offer his take on how best for Democrats to regroup after their generally poor showing in the November elections.

Jones also talks policy, particularly in his current role as a member of the state Board of Education.

Updated 4:45 p.m., Saturday, with election results — Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker is the new head of the Missouri Democratic Party, and outgoing state Rep. Clem Smith of St. Louis County is the new vice chairman.

Democratic activists hope that the duo — elected Saturday by party leaders gathered in Jefferson City — can help reorganize and revamp the party's image, operations and message. 

To say Missouri Democrats fared poorly in the November election is an understatement. Even as national Democrats saw huge gains, Missouri Democrats largely got wiped out – for the second time in two years. The biggest loss was the defeat of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill in her bid for a third term.

Missouri’s results came in spite of outgoing chairman Stephen Webber recruiting more candidates than state Democrats have seen in years, and campaigning hard for them.

State Rep.-elect Mary Elizabeth Coleman joins Politically Speaking to talk about her big win in Missouri’s 97th District House seat — and her expectations about the upcoming legislative session.

Coleman is a Republican from Arnold who defeated Democratic state Rep. Mike Revis in this month’s election. She will represent parts of St. Louis and Jefferson counties when lawmakers return for the 2019 session in January.

As he prepares to change jobs, state Treasurer Eric Schmitt talked to St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies about two of the major influences on his life:

Missouri Democratic Party chairman Stephen Webber says he will step down when his term ends Dec. 1.

Webber told St. Louis Public Radio that he has sent a letter to members of the Democratic State Committee, notifying them of his plans. A new chairman will be chosen Dec. 1, he said.

Webber is a former legislator from Columbia. He has drawn praise for his hard work campaigning for Missouri Democrats, even though the party suffered a major loss with this month’s defeat of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is expected to soon name a new state attorney general, now that incumbent Josh Hawley has been elected to the U.S. Senate.

And his decision could set up a political version of musical chairs.

Hawley's vacancy will be the second that Parson will fill since he took office less than six months ago.

Parson named then-state Sen. Mike Kehoe as lieutenant governor after Parson was elevated to governor, following the June resignation of fellow Republican Eric Greitens.

St. Louis Public Radio’s political trio – Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann – did a postmortem of Tuesday’s election results on the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has defeated U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, giving the state and the country a new Republican in the Senate and President Donald Trump a sought-after victory.

“This was about defending our way of life. It was about renewing it for a new day,” Hawley said, touching off deafening cheers from supporters gathered in Springfield at the University Plaza hotel. “And tonight the people of Missouri said we believe in that way of life, it's not the past, it’s the future."

Marie DeBor of Webster Groves is front and center in the longstanding debate in Missouri over medical marijuana.  

DeBor, who has multiple sclerosis, is hoping that the drug changes her life.

“I have tried it in legal recreational states and have had benefits,” said DeBor. “My friends with MS in other states tell me how beneficial it is to them.”

After years of starts and stops, activists in favor of raising Missouri’s minimum wage may finally find success this year with a ballot proposition that increases the state’s wage floor from $7.85 an hour to $12 an hour by 2023.

That’s because proponents of the increase, on the ballot as Proposition B, are flush with cash, while opponents did not set up a campaign committee to raise money. Still, since the measure is a statute, critics of the plan could turn to the General Assembly to make changes.

Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies to talk about how Democrats are stacking up in next week’s election.

Both Webber and Missouri Republican Party Chairman Todd Graves recorded episodes of Politically Speaking. You can listen to Graves’ episode by clicking here.

Missouri Republican Party Chairman Todd Graves joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies on the latest edition of Politically Speaking.

Both Graves and Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber taped podcasts giving their perspective on next week’s election, which will have a major impact on the state’s future political trajectory.

For most of the summer, the Democratic primary for St. Louis County executive ruled the TV airwaves – setting a spending record of more than $6 million.

But since incumbent Steve Stenger’s narrow August victory, the contest for the county’s top post has been almost invisible.

Stenger still faces another election next week. He is heavily favored to win in the Democratic-dominated county. He’s facing three opponents: Republican Paul Berry III, Libertarian Nicholas Kasoff and Constitution Party nominee Andrew Ostrowski.

As Missouri’s nationally-watched Senate race enters the final few days, incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill and GOP challenger Josh Hawley focused Monday on their core campaign messages as they stumped in St. Louis.

For Hawley, it was voting for President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees. And for McCaskill, it was protecting key health care benefits in the Affordable Care Act.

Bob Kelley, the retired longtime president of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, died Saturday of heart failure at the age of 75.

He resided in St. Charles and had been ill for some time.

Kelley led the council for 29 years, until he retired in 2004. During that time, he was a major regional figure in the labor movement, in civic affairs and in politics.  

He was active in Democratic politics and was a national committeeman from 1984-1992. He was a Missouri delegate to the presidential convention in 1992 that nominated then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton.

St. Louis-area election officials report enthusiasm among Democratic and Republican voters,  fueling a dramatic uptick in absentee balloting.

Eric Fey, St. Louis County’s Democratic elections director, expects the final absentee tally to come close to the county’s huge 2010 total of about 25,000 absentee votes. The county provides the largest bloc of votes in the state.

“Absentees this election has been interesting,” Fey said. “It started off slow, with really no increase over the last midterm election in 2014. Over the last week or so, it has really accelerated.”

St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies take a deep look at Amendment 1 on the latest edition of Political Speaking.

The measure, widely known as Clean Missouri, combines a host of ethics-related alterations with an overhaul of state legislative redistricting. Out of all the things on the Nov. 6 ballot, Clean Missouri is eliciting the most unusual political alliances.

Missouri's GOP state auditor nominee Saundra McDowell joins the Politically Speaking podcast to talk about her campaign for the statewide office.

McDowell is squaring off against incumbent Democrat Nicole Galloway, who was appointed to her post after Tom Schweich’s death in 2015. You can listen to Galloway’s appearance on the show here.

Although their policy differences are stark, U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner and her Democratic rival, Cort VanOstran, frame their 2nd District contest in similar terms.

Said Republican Wagner, who is seeking her fourth term:

“Missouri 2nd Congressional District is personal to me. This is where I was born and raised. This is where I raised my family. It’s where I’ve worked. It’s where I volunteer. And it’s home.”

Said VanOstran, who’s making his first bid for public office: