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Commentary: Conversation with Insiders, Part 1


Recently I got together with my two political insiders – one a progressive Democrat, the other a conservative Republican, both highly respected, well-connected and deeply informed – to survey the lay of the political land right before Labor Day.  I’ll try to condense an hour and a half of conversation and analysis.

Locally, the big race is for state senate, with former Democratic state representative and state treasurer candidate Judy Baker challenging incumbent Caleb Rowden.  Both see Rowden with the edge because of his fund-raising prowess and his clout as Senate Majority Leader.  Baker is working hard and may carry Boone County but Rowden will win big in Cooper County and likely hold on.  All bets are off if this is a wave election for Democrats.

Both agree that the remaining incumbent state representatives are likely to be  reelected.  The Democrat says that Chuck Bayse would be the only vulnerable one.  At the county level the Democrat believes both Fred Parry and Janet Thompson will likely be reelected; however, the Republican believes both could be in trouble, especially Thompson in the Northern District. 

For governor the Republican noted how red Missouri has become and says “I don’t see how Parson loses.”   The Democrat is cautiously optimistic about turnout and says Nicole Galloway is “a fantastic candidate and a good campaigner.”  He says: “The stars are moving.” 

Both were surprised by Corey Bush’s ousting of long-time incumbent Lacey Clay in the First Congressional District in St. Louis.  Missouri will be adding a fifth member to “The Squad” in the House Democratic caucus.  Both believe Republican Ann Wagner is vulnerable in the other St. Louis congressional district.  Her opponent is a well-known state senator and a formidable campaigner who will try to lash Wagner to President Trump in this stereotypical suburban district.

About Medicaid expansion the Democrat says turnout was a factor in its passage.  The Republican says opponents could have won had they spent money earlier.

I couldn’t resist asking them: “What’s up with Eric Greitens?”  The Democrat said he is trying to rehabilitate his image and is writing a “tell-all” book about the “witch hunt/conspiracy” that brought him down.  He hopes to publish it before the election to embarrass Parson.  He believes Greitens will run for the U.S. Senate in 2022 whether or not Senator Blunt seeks reelection.  The Republican said: “I haven’t talked to a single person who wants Greitens to return to politics.”  Maybe Greitens and Carl Edwards will duke it out for the Senate seat in 2022.

I’ll get my colleagues’ views on the national scene in the next commentary.

Dr. Terry Smith is a Political Science Professor at Columbia College and a regular commentator on KBIA's Talking Politics.