Commentary: Two Views on the Near Future of Missouri Politics
From time to time I visit with two well-connected, well-informed, and well-respected local politicos, one a Democrat and the other a Republican. We caught up even though it is way more than a year until the next national election, and a year in politics time is longer than the amount of time it takes light to reach Earth from the most distant observable galaxy. Still, it’s good to check vital signs occasionally.
I asked them the same questions and they agreed on many more things than they disagreed. Locally they saw few significant challenges to incumbents, all of whom appear to be seeking reelection. The exceptions are Boone County Southern District Commissioner Fred Parry, whom both see as vulnerable to a robust challenge. The Democrat thinks Sheri Reisch may be vulnerable in the 44th state legislative district.
At the state level Governor Parson will almost certainly seek reelection and both believe he would be favored against State Auditor Nicole Galloway, who is a strong challenger and will be well-funded. Her problem -- and that of all other statewide Democrats – is how red Missouri is becoming. When Galloway won narrowly against an underfunded Republican candidate who was about as qualified to be state auditor as my pet newt, then you know Democrats are going to have problems.
Both believe Medicaid expansion will be on the ballot, with Democratic hopes that it will increase turnout. The Democrat thinks that the GOP legislature will try to repeal through a referendum the Clean Missouri redistricting plan approved by voters in 2018.
Neither sees much change in the makeup of the state legislature. The Democrat thinks they will pick up a few seats but will still be a super-minority. Neither thinks former Secretary of State Jason Kander, who almost beat Senator Roy Blunt in 2016 and is only now returning to public life following a health break, will seek office in 2020, although he may try for the Senate again in 2022. And the Democrat has heard that disgraced former governor Eric Greitens is stirring from his south Missouri hideaway.
I asked both: “Are Democrats resigned to a Trump reelection?” Neither thought so but they came from different places. The Democrat was hopeful that his party would see the absolute necessity of nominating someone who can beat Trump and unify the party. He said ruefully that it is possible that Democrats could have an even larger popular vote margin in 2020 than they had in 2016 and still lose the Electoral College, because the dynamics that elected Trump in the three very close states -- Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania -- are still in place and the other states are likely going to vote as they did in 2016. The Republican thinks key Democrats are trying to recruit Michelle Obama to run. I am dubious. I opined that the Trump Exhaustion Factor may keep enough Trump supporters home in key states in 2020 to elect a Democrat.
We will, of course, see about all of this. But not soon. The light from the distant galaxy is only beginning its journey.