By SHERI GASSAWAY
The eight-foot-tall sign greeting voters who hit the polls during the March 15 presidential primaries in portions of Arnold, Imperial and Barnhart was hard to miss: “Vescovo votes to hurt working families to pay back millionaire donors.”
It was a statement that was well received and initiated many discussions, which is exactly what Robert “Bob” Butler was aiming for. Butler, a worker-friendly Democrat, is running against Mo. Rep. Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold) for the District 112 seat, which represents portions of northern Jefferson County.
“I wanted to identify with voters early and point out the fact that Vescovo is against working families,” Butler said, noting that a record number of voters were expected to turn out for the primary. “In Jefferson County, there is strong opposition to right to work, and that’s going to be a key issue in this race.”
Butler is a workers compensation attorney and founded the Jeff Co Dems Club to help rebuild and strengthen the Democratic Party in Jefferson County following the 2014 elections. He announced his intention to run for the District 112 House seat last June and officially filed for office in February.
LABOR BY HIS SIDE
Before hitting the polls, Butler reached out to members of the Jefferson County Labor Club asking for volunteers the day of the presidential primaries. Labor answered his call for help and union members were stationed at each polling spot in the entire district.
Butler set up shop at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Otto, Mo., and was joined by Chuck Demoulin, a business representative at IBEW Local 1 and member of the labor club’s executive board. Demoulin said he had never seen a candidate take such of a positive initiative so early in a campaign.
“We had a lot of people talk with us about Bob’s campaign and ask questions about right to work,” he said. “It was very good experience, and in my opinion, there’s nothing better than talking to a candidate in person.”
Time and time again, Vescovo has shown his disdain for organized labor and working families. He consistently voted for right-to-work legislation last year, has filed bills several anti-worker bills this legislative session and voted in favor of the paycheck deception bill approved by the legislature this month, which was subsequently vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon.
In December, Vescovo verbally confronted union members from Laborers’ Local 110 and Bricklayers Local 1 during a picket at Bobcat of St. Louis in Valley Park. Vescovo’s district covers portions of Arnold, Barnhart and High Ridge. It is unclear how the state representative learned of the Valley Park picket or why he was there.
Most recently, Show Me Progress reported that Vescovo accepted a $50,000 campaign donation from David Humphreys, CEO of Tamko Building Products in Joplin, Mo. Last year, Humpheys and his sister each contributed $500,000 to a committee called Accountable Government in Missouri, which ran a series of vicious attack ads on the 20 Republican legislators who voted against right to work.
A mouse race fundraiser for Butler is scheduled for Saturday, April 9 from 7 to 10:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 1623 Jeffco Blvd., in Arnold. Beer and soda will be provided. The cost is $15 per person or $25 a couple. For more information, visit butler4thehouse.com or call 314-605-0024.