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.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill says she has a growing list of questions as she preps for her meeting next week with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

And most of them won’t deal with his position on abortion rights, a top concern of progressive groups.

“I’m sure it will come up, but he won’t answer it,’’ McCaskill predicted.

Despite an income downturn in July, Missouri budget director Dan Haug says the state is starting its new fiscal year in stronger shape than it has seen in years.

That’s because the fiscal year that ended June 30 saw a last-minute surplus of $350 million that is providing an income cushion.

So unlike his recent predecessors, Gov. Mike Parson hasn’t had  to impose additional spending cuts.

With their nominations in the bag, it’s now “game on’’ for Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and her Republican rival, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Even as Tuesday’s vote-counting was wrapping up, McCaskill and Hawley each issued calls for debates leading up to the Nov. 6 election.

Both also sought to frame their contest as one pitting a person of the people against a rival who’s out of touch.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger likely is headed toward re-election, after a razor-thin victory over businessman Mark Mantovani in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

“Today’s victory shows that voters believe we are moving St. Louis County in the right direction,” Stenger said during his late-night victory speech.

But Mantovani had yet to concede; he lost by roughly 1,100 votes. His campaign said it would release a statement Wednesday. He will also look at the implications of what it means to ask for a recount.

St. Louis County voters are just days away from effectively deciding whether County Executive Steve Stenger stays in office or is replaced by businessman Mark Mantovani.

And with election day looming, both men are continuing their record-setting spending spree, with most of it going to TV ads.

Their last pre-election campaign-finance reports, filed Monday, show the two have spent almost $1 million on TV ads just since July 1.

The vote Tuesday to determine whether Missouri becomes the 28th right-to-work state will reverberate nationally and could have a huge effect on state lawmakers next year.

“We got to beat ‘em bad,” Greater St. Louis Labor Council President Pat White said as their campaign to defeat Proposition A heads into the home stretch. “We got to beat ‘em bad enough, so that next year we can go to these Republicans — and it ain’t all Republicans — and we can say, ‘This is how many people voted against this in your district.’”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 30, 2011 - Fearing the national consequences, the Missouri Republican Party's state committee voted at an emergency meeting Thursday to rely on a caucus system in 2012 to allocate the state's presidential delegates.

Party leaders deemed the move the only option after the Missouri Senate failed to act during the special session to approve a bill -- passed by the House -- that would have moved Missouri's presidential primary to March 6.

Sporting a Cardinals T-shirt, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson stood in the parking lot of a strip mall Saturday in south St. Louis County to make his pitch to a crowd of local Republicans.

His message? That President Donald Trump is relying on Missouri voters to replace U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill with a Republican.

“The turning point of our country, the United States of America, could very well depend on the Senate outcome in the state of Missouri,” Parson said. “All eyes will be upon us.”

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill says she wants the federal government to do more to discourage the type of Russian hacking that was directed at her office computers.

The Democrat told reporters Friday in St. Louis that military-intelligence officials said months ago that they have the tools to block Russian hacking but are waiting for an order from the White House.

Updated July 27 at 2:37 p.m. - STLPR journalist Jason Rosenbaum joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to provide further analysis and a behind-the-scenes look at the president's visit.

Original story from July 26:

President Donald Trump offered up a passionate defense of his trade policy during a visit Thursday to Granite City, and predicted that Friday’s economic numbers will back him up.

“The days of plundering American jobs and wealth, those days are over,’’ Trump said, touching off cheers from an enthusiastic crowd of about 500 invited guests gathered in a warehouse that’s part of a steel mill complex being reopened by US Steel.

The St. Louis area’s 2nd Congressional District, which spans from Jefferson County to St. Charles, has been in Republican hands for more than 20 years.

But a crowd of progressive Democrats are banking that a majority of the district’s voters are ready to choose an alternative to Republican incumbent Ann Wagner, who’s held the congressional seat since 2013.

President Donald Trump will portray the newly reopened steel plant in Granite City as evidence of the benefits of his trade tariffs during Thursday’s visit to the region.

Aides told reporters during a conference call today that Trump will defend his tariffs during his afternoon speech at a warehouse on the grounds of Granite City Works.

Members of the St. Louis County Council may try to subpoena people who have served as members of the St. Louis County Port Authority.

It’s the latest salvo in a long-running feud between the council and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, a schism that will likely remain even if the Democratic chief executive wins his primary next month.


Updated July 20 at 4 p.m. — Analysis from St. Louis on the Air added.

Updated July 19 at 3 p.m. — U.S. Vice President Mike Pence defended President Donald Trump’s record as “18 months of action, 18 months of results, 18 months of promises kept,’’ as he exhorted St. Louis area supporters to get out to vote in November.

In particular, Pence called for help in defeating U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who the vice president contended is too liberal for the state — and the country.

The St. Louis County Council has overridden three more of County Executive Steve Stenger’s vetoes — part of a longstanding fight over power.

But the stakes may be heightened, as the Aug. 7 primary looms.

Council Chairman Sam Page, a fellow Democrat, said after Tuesday’s votes that the members want to hold Stenger accountable.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is heading into the final weeks of his primary campaign with a hefty financial edge over Democratic rival Mark Mantovani as the two continue their expensive battle on TV.

And now, U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, is joining them by also going on TV, even though she is expected to easily win the Republican primary.

Wagner’s decision to run ads before the Aug. 7 primary is notable – especially since she didn’t run any TV spots in 2016, according to her campaign staff.

Four months before the November election, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is deploying her massive fundraising edge over GOP rival Josh Hawley to dramatically outspend him.

Since April 1, McCaskill has spent close to $3.6 million in her Democratic bid for a third term. That’s almost four times state Attorney General Hawley’s spending, which was just under $1 million.

The Republican chairman of the now-defunct House panel that investigated then-Gov. Eric Greitens has filed a formal complaint with the state Ethics Commission accusing Greitens of running an illegal shadow campaign operation to avoid the state’s campaign-donation laws.

“With the ethics complaint that has been filed based on the work of the House investigative committee, the Missouri Ethics Commission has overwhelming evidence to conclude that Eric Greitens, his campaign committee and affiliated dark-money organization broke state campaign-finance laws,” said Democratic committee members Gina Mitten and Tommie Pierson Jr.

President Donald Trump’s newest nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court simply adds to the latest round of heightened political tensions in Missouri over reproductive rights and abortion.

And, as expected, it’s already become a key issue in the state’s closely watched U.S. Senate race. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is making the Supreme Court confirmation the centerpiece of the Republican U.S. Senate candidate’s first TV ad, which began airing Monday.

Although President Donald Trump isn’t expected to announce his Supreme Court nominee until next week, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and her best-known GOP rival are already gearing up for a major fight.

That’s particularly true for the Republican, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who’s contending that the future of the U.S. Supreme Court – and McCaskill’s past confirmation votes – should be the pivotal issue in their contest.

Less than a month after taking office, new Gov. Mike Parson is putting his stamp on Missouri’s budget priorities.

And he’s gotten some help from an unexpected flurry of new money into state coffers, says state budget director Dan Haug.

On Friday, Parson signed state budget bills that, among other things, call for $99 million in additional spending for public education compared to the current fiscal year. He also has approved more money for school transportation.

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann welcome Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft – who’s in the midst of a flurry of pre-election activity.

A Republican, Ashcroft was elected during the state’s GOP election landslide of 2016. That year, Missouri voters also approved a photo-ID requirement at the polls.

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas’ political future is now up to a judge, who will likely rule before the summer ends whether Trakas violated the county charter by doing legal work for school districts.

If the answer is yes, then Trakas – who represents much of south county – would be removed from the council.

St. Charles County Circuit Judge Dan Pelikan held a brief hearing Thursday morning and ordered lawyers for both sides to submit any additional legal arguments within 30 days. Pelikan could then rule at any time, although the lawyers predict it likely will be August at the earliest before he announces his decision.

Labor leaders in Missouri’s public and private sectors say the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest ruling curbing public-employee unions doesn’t appear to have a direct impact in Missouri.

The court ruled 5-4 today that public-employee unions cannot collect fees or dues from workers who decline to join the union. But in Missouri, labor leaders say public-employee unions in the state already must get their members to voluntarily pay dues.

Labor leaders in Missouri’s public and private sectors say the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest ruling curbing public-employee unions doesn’t appear to have a direct impact in Missouri.

The court ruled 5-4 today that public-employee unions cannot collect fees or dues from workers who decline to join the union. But in Missouri, labor leaders say public-employee unions in the state already must get their members to voluntarily pay dues.

The St. Louis County Council is planning to set up a special task force to tackle the region’s opioid problem, and is offering up to $1 million in grants to encourage people to come up with solutions.

In a rare show of solidarity, the council voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of the plan.

The county already has a prescription drug monitoring program. But Councilman Mark Harder, a Republican from Ballwin, said the 11-member task force is a necessary addition.

Missouri Democrats appear to be banking their political future on linking the state’s fight over a “right to work’’ law, known as Proposition A, to the effort to re-elect Missouri’s last remaining Democrats holding statewide office.

A referendum over Proposition A will be on the August ballot. The two Democrats facing re-election this year – U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and state Auditor Nicole Galloway – will go before voters in November.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat and rising national star, delivered a two-pronged address in St. Louis on Thursday that appeared to be aimed at elevating her own profile while also boosting fellow Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Both officials were star attractions at the St. Louis County NAACP annual dinner, held at the downtown Four Seasons Hotel.

Many of Harris’ keynote remarks focused on challenges facing like-minded Americans who are upset over various actions by President Donald Trump’s administration.

The St. Louis County Council’s focus on redevelopment efforts at the old Northwest Plaza site – and its related accusations against County Executive Steve Stenger – are now igniting concerns among St. Ann officials and civic leaders.

St. Ann city administrator Matt Conley was among several who contended that the council’s political fight with Stenger is hurting the city’s efforts to attract businesses to the former shopping center site, which once was a regional magnet for shoppers.

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann welcome former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch – who’s jumping into the political arena.

Fitch often made headlines in his former job. He didn’t hesitate to go public with some of his concerns, even when it put him at odds with then-County Executive Charlie Dooley.

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