Uncontested Races Means Half of the November Election is Already Over in Missouri
August 12, 2012

(AP) — Want to pick who represents you in the Missouri Capitol? It’s too late in many legislative districts unless you were among the 23 percent of the state’s registered voters to cast ballots in this past week’s primary.
Half the general election campaigns for the Missouri Legislature will be uncontested or feature only third-party candidates against the Republican or Democrat.
Among those clinching early were Majority Leader Tom Dempsey and Sen. Eric Schmitt, who faced no opposition in their primaries. Three other Republicans representing southern Missouri districts have locked up their races after winning contested GOP primaries.
Democrats will not control the Senate, but four have guaranteed spots in the chamber. Kiki Curls, who won a 2011 special election in Kansas City, faced no opposition for a full term. Paul LeVota, of Independence, also was unopposed. Two others had to win competitive primaries but face no general election opponent.
Republicans secured districts in suburban St. Louis and Kansas City as well as in several rural areas. A swath of the state stretching largely uninterrupted from Joplin northeast into central Missouri through the Lake of the Ozarks falls within state House districts that have been decided for the GOP.
Democratic candidates face no opposition in several districts in Kansas City, plus part of St. Louis County and most of St. Louis city. Sitting lawmakers in Columbia, Hillsboro and Bonne Terre also were not challenged
This year’s non-competitive races come despite new legislative maps. Boundaries were rearranged in the House and Senate to account for population changes from the 2010 census. The shuffling prompted four primaries between Democratic House members from the St. Louis area but did not stop others from wrapping up their races before school starts.
“If it’s that way today, then by mid-decade and the end of the decade, it will be even worse,” said Bob Johnson, a former Republican state lawmaker from Lee’s Summit who previously advocated for more competitive legislative districts.
“The elected officials form whichever party they were elected under – whatever banner they were elected under – they understand they don’t have to appeal to the majority of the voters who will vote in November. And all they have to do is appeal to the primary voter, which generally is the base of their party,” Johnson said.

Carnahan & Clay Mo-1 Dem Primary Incumbent Showdown, Political survival on the Line
August 5, 2012

(AP) — As political progenies and colleagues in Congress, William Lacy Clay Jr. and Russ Carnahan have cordially represented St. Louis together with a decidedly liberal flare. Now the two Democrats are calling each other desperate, angry liars and even tea party allies.

That’s what can happen when two members of Congress are matched up in a single district because of a once-every-decade redrawing of political boundaries.

Overall, 11 contests this year have pitted incumbents against each other. Some are highlighting the tea party tensions inside the Republican Party and racial sensitivities among Democratic constituents.

“It’s just devastating to the Democratic Party here that people have to make these kind of choices, when there are two good candidates,” said Claude Brown, 72, a Democratic activist in St. Louis who is siding with Clay largely because of loyalties to Clay’s father. William Lacy Clay Sr. represented St. Louis for 32 years in the House, from 1969 to 2001, and was succeeded by his son.

Carnahan’s grandfather served in Congress. His father, Gov. Mel Carnahan, died in a plane crash in October 2000 while campaigning for the U.S. Senate. Russ Carnahan won election to the House in 2004.

When Missouri lost a seat as a result of the census, the Republican-led Legislature, with the help of a few urban Democrats, carved up Carnahan’s south St. Louis area district and merged it with others. Instead of moving to a Republican-leaning suburb, Carnahan chose to battle Clay for the shrinking core of St. Louis.

Clay, who is black, holds a demographic advantage in the district where a majority of the remaining residents are racial minorities. Carnahan, who is white, is trying to appeal to voters by claiming Clay has sold out to shady lenders preying on low-income residents who live paycheck to paycheck. Clay has received tens of thousands of dollars over the past few years from the rent-to-own industry.

Carnahan’s campaign has mailed greeting-card style fliers that, when opened, play a snippet of a Clay speech to a 2008 convention of rent-to-own retailers in which Clay expresses pride in successfully advancing their interests. Other Carnahan fliers call his rival “Payday Clay.”

Carnahan also accuses Clay of “throwing Democrats under the bus” by allegedly supporting the Republican redistricting plan that squeezed St. Louis into one district instead of two.

Clay says Carnahan should quit “whining” about redistricting. He claims Carnahan “has run a desperate, angry campaign,” and accuses him of “voting with the tea party” by not supporting a certain Democratic alternative to a Republican budget plan. Playing up his connections to urban voters, Clay is running a hip-hop radio ad in which a rapper disses the tea party, boasts of Clay’s “backbone” and proclaims in rhyme that Clay “stands for the people each day” and “battles for us, better than Russ.”

In a debate this past week, Clay and Carnahan repeatedly accused one another of telling “whoppers.”

In the GOP versus GOP primaries this month, the matchups are at least partly voluntary and a carry-over of the conservative wave that swept through the party in 2010.

In Arizona, for example, a redistricting commission placed the home of Rep. Ben Quayle, the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle, in a newly drawn 9th Congressional District that includes more Democrats than his old territory did. Instead of running there, Quayle chose to challenge fellow freshman Rep. David Schweikert in the Republican-leaning 6th District.

Schweikert, who has the support of some tea party groups, complained at the time: “He’s making a selfish move that puts Republicans in a very tough position.

No Dem Files Against Yoder, 2nd Term on the Way
June 11, 2012

Johnson County’s freshman Congressman Kevin Yoder has almost been assured of re-election. He was going to be a heavy favorite for a second term. Those odds just got better. No democratic candidate filed to oppose him in November. He has no primary challenger, either.
There is some speculation Yoder may face an independent candidate, but that has not developed yet.
Two years ago, Yoder won a vigorous GOP primary to win the nomination. The seat was opened up by Democrat Dennis Moore’s decision to retire.
Moore’s wife Stephene ran against Yoder on the Democratic ticket. Yoder easily won the November election with 58% of the vote.
Yoder’s new district is a little more Republican than the previous Ks-3. Redistricting took some of the western portions of the Ks-3 away,portions near Lawrence. The panel of three federal judges that draw the map added a slice of northeastern Miami County to the Ks-3rd.
Yoder isn’t the only Kansas Congressman to cruise.
Western Kansas Republican Tim Huelskamp faces no primary or Democratic opposition in the new, bigger First Congressional district.
Huelskamp is also a freshman.
The AP says some Kansas Congressional districts do have Democratis filing in the heavily Republican state.
The AP says, ” Three more Kansas Democrats have filed for seats in the U.S. House, including two hoping to run against Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins.

Bob Eye, an attorney from Lawrence, and the Rev. Tobias Schlingensiepen, who’s on leave as senior pastor of Topeka’s First Congregational Church, secured spots on the primary ballot Monday in the 2nd Congressional District. Jenkins has represented the district since 2009.

Filing Monday for the Democratic primary in the 4th Congressional District of south-central Kansas was Esau Freeman, a house painter and artist from Wichita. Freeman hopes to run in November against freshman Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo.

Another Democrat, retired court services officer Robert Tillman, has also filed for the seat.

Candidates had until noon Monday to file for the party primaries being held Aug. 7.

Breaking: Fed Court Issues Late night Plan for Kansas Redistricting
June 7, 2012

More in a bit…

Kansas Lawmakers Struggle with Redistricting in Wrap-Up Session
April 25, 2012

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A Kansas House committee is hesitating to intervene in a contentious dispute in the state Senate over redrawing senators’ districts.

The House Redistricting Committee convened Wednesday with plans to review proposals for adjusting the boundaries of Senate districts. But its chairman, House Speaker Mike O’Neal, kept the panel in session for only a few minutes.

Aides to O’Neal said later there were signs the Senate was moving closer to resolving a dispute between conservative and moderate Republicans on redistricting.

Tradition dictates that one chamber does not attempt to redraw the districts of the other chamber’s members.