‘Dirty Missouri’ Republican effort draws condemnation
By ED FINKELSTEIN
In what will go down as one of the greatest betrayals of voters by the Republican-controlled legislature, Republicans, aided by one Democrat, voted to ignore the will of 1.6 million Missourians by authorizing a vote to try to overturn Clean Missouri, the 2018 constitutional amendment designed to clean up Missouri politics.
Their efforts drew the immediate ire of the Labor and the public, including our state’s preeminent and respected Republican, Senator Jack Danforth who said “… I will vote no on the legislators’ gerrymandering amendment and encourage every Missouri voter to do the same. The integrity of Missouri’s democracy is at stake.”
Only one Republican stood up for integrity in the final vote: Senator Lincoln Hough (Green County). One Democrat voted with the Republicans: University City’s Maria Chappelle-Nadal.
As the Labor Tribune went to press, the Missouri AFL-CIO had a resolution of condemnation that was expected to be passed unanimously this past Tuesday at their Board meeting.
Dubbing the Republican action “Dirty Missouri,” the Board resolution to oppose the upcoming ballot measure – SJR 38- noted, “Missouri politicians want to gerrymander our legislative districts for partisan gain that will result in more profits for corporations and less economic gains and less safety in the workplace for Missouri’s working families.”
VOTERS NOT SMART ENOUGH?!
“It is obvious that the leadership care about one thing and one thing only, and that is to prevent the people of Missouri from having a voice in the Capitol,” Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis said.
Speaking to the lame excuse given by Republicans for passing the issue — Missourian’s didn’t know what they were voting on when they passed Clean Missouri — St. Louis Labor Council President Pat White made it clear just how phony that excuse really is:
“It’s a shame that the politicians in Jefferson City will blatantly to tell the voters of Missouri that we are not smart enough to know what we are voting for when we go to the ballot box. This legislation is a smack in the face of every voter, whether the agreed with the measure or not.”
Key to the Republican measure is a provision that will try to change how Missouri’s redistricting process works as outlined in the original Clean Missouri amendment: a nonpartisan demographer is to draw legislative maps following the 2020 census. That would then be reviewed by a bi-partisan commission for final approval.
The Republican proposal is to bring back the original approach rejected by 62 percent of the voters in 2018, one that has resulted in their stacking re-districting to protect incumbents — gerrymandering.
MOST ‘EXTREME’ EVER SEEN
Danforth called the Republican plan a “substitute redistricting scheme more extreme than Missouri has ever seen.”
Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway, noting that the Clean Missouri amendment was “…A landmark effort to clean up our government and put us on track to have more open and fair elections,” stated the obvious that everyone knows: “Voters weren’t confused when they voted for Clean Missouri in 2018 and they will defeat this backdoor effort to overturn the will of the voters.”
Why do the want to overturn Clean Missouri she asked? “Because they want to be able to draw their own lines, pick their own voters, and continue to be funded by dark money.”
Galloway, the Democratic candidate for governor in November, added: “I’m running for Governor to put state government back on the side of working families, with an agenda that focuses on the things that will help Missourians recover from this crisis, such as affordable healthcare and support for workers.”
Noted White: “When will these politicians learn that it’s the people of this state that govern and not a few men and women who are paid for by out-of-state interests to push their anti workers’ agendas?”
FIGHTING SENATOR WALSH, DEMS
Speaking to the onslaught of efforts in the recent session which ended last Friday to pass even more anti-worker laws, Louis noted that while people were dying from a pandemic like we have never seen before, “Had it not been for Senator Gina Walsh and the handful of Democratic Senators that stood up against the continued attacks on Missouri workers, their families, the sick and the poor, things would have been way worse than it all turned out.”
To that point, Galloway added: “For the legislative majority, in the middle of the unprecedented public health and economic emergency, to prioritize this issue demonstrates how broken Jefferson City has become.”
Voters outraged to be called ignorant
The key Republican argument for passing SJR 38 was that voters were ignorant and “didn’t understand” what they were voting on, drew withering on-line fire from voters across the state after their vote last week to destroy Clean Missouri on an upcoming state-wide ballot. A sampling of their anger:
• ”I’m a conservative who voted for Clean Missouri because I thought it was fair – not because I was confused. The House is spitting in the face of the electorate.”
• “If there’s any shred of integrity left in our democratic institutions, these lawmakers are hellbent on destroying it. ‘Confused’ – honestly, could you be any more condescending?!”
• “I certainly wasn’t confused when I voted for Clean Missouri. I believe the Republican Party is totally confused from the local level to the state level…”
• “Missouri Republican legislators have absolutely no sense of fairness nor shame. They could care less what their own constituents have voted into law. No, I am not confused, just sick and tired of the discarding of America’s basic idea of fairness by these hooligans in suits.”
VOTE THEM OUT!
And many voters called for throwing out legislators who voted to overturn Clean Missouri:
• “Disgraceful. There should be an opposing proposal on the ballot that would require the immediate removal from office of any state representative that voted in favor of this rubbish!”
• “It would be poetic justice for the Republicans to get blown out of the water by this. They have for so long disrespected the votes of the people to pass contrary legislation that the Clean Missouri Amendment must have really confused them.”
• “The only thing I’m confused about is how in the world these legislators keep getting elected in the state of Missouri! If we don’t want the will of the voters questioned and overturned, we need to elect different legislators…..very simple!”