Unions boost Democrats to victory in key Missouri races

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GOV. JAY NIXON greets supporters on election night at his campaign victory rally at the Pageant nightclub in St. Louis. Nixon beat his GOP opponent, businessman Dave Spence, by 54.7 percent to 42.6 percent. Nixon will again face a GOP-controlled General Assembly.

By DANA SPITZER

Managing Editor

St. Louis—Boosted by heavy support from organized labor, Democrats won every statewide office but one in the Nov. 6 election, overcoming a 215,000 vote deficit in the race for President, in which President Barack Obama lost to Mitt Romney. Neither presidential candidate campaigned in Missouri.

Gov. Jay Nixon and U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, whose races dominated the public discourse during the campaign, won re-election with heavier than expected margins.

In an appreciative comment to the Labor Tribune, Gov. Nixon said: "(This election) marked a resounding victory for our campaign and for working families across our great state. I could not be more grateful for the steadfast support of our allies in the labor community, who understood the importance of this race and who dedicated so much of their time, energy and resources to helping us win it. We couldn't have done it without them. Together, we'll make our economy stronger, our workforce safer and keep Missouri moving forward."

Atty. Gen. Chris Koster turned back Ed Martin, his Republican challenger, by more than 400,000 votes.

State Treasurer Clint Zweifel won re-election with a 50 percent to 45 percent margin.

In the race for Secretary of State, the only office without an incumbent, State Rep. Jason Kander of Kansas City, won a narrow victory over State Rep. Shane Schoeller of Willard.

Former Democratic State Auditor Susan Montee fell short in her campaign to unseat incumbent Republican Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder.

UNION SUPPORT

Missouri unions, with important help from their internationals and local labor councils, provided hundreds of volunteers to make phone calls go door-to-door and provide campaign information at work sites. Political Action Committees, fueled by modest voluntary contributions as low as a dollar a month, provided thousands of dollars to labor-friendly candidates.

Democrats did not fare as well in races for the state legislature. In the House of Representatives, Republicans added four more seats to their already overwhelming majority. They now will hold 110 seats in the 163 member House.

In the Senate, Republican State Sen. Jim Lembke of Lemay lost to Democratic State Rep. Scott Sifton of Affton. Republicans will have a 24 to 10 majority in the Senate.

RTW UNCERTAINTY

Missouri AFL-CIO President Hugh McVey noted that both Republican candidates, Todd Aiken in the U.S. Senate race, and Dave Spence in the race for Governor, were ardent supporters of so-called right-to-work (for less) laws. Hopefully, he said, their defeat will dampen enthusiasm in the state legislature for the Republican majorities to pursue that union-busting legislation.

“Missouri voters rejected the extreme, anti-worker ideology of Todd Akin and Dave Spence.  While Akin’s comments on women’s health are now infamous, his positions on Social Security, Medicare, the minimum wage and many other issues are just as out-of-touch.

“Missouri is a moderate state, so it only makes sense that we’ve elected a moderate Senator– Claire McCaskill – to another term.”

“Just as important, millionaire vanity candidate Dave Spence made a so-called “Right to work” bill his number one campaign issue. At nearly every campaign stop and interview, Spence said his top priority would be phony “right to work” legislation.

"This tired old concept was rejected by Missouri voters over 30 years ago – and today’s election results show “right to work” is still wrong for Missouri.”

McVey said it is uncertain whether Republicans in the state house will pursue right-to-work (for less).

State Rep. Tim Jones (R-Eureka), the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, has been a supporter of right-to-work (for less), and other anti-union proposals.

Mike Louis, Missouri AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer-elect, pointed out that unions and their members played a critical role in the state campaigns.

Unions contributed substantial financial help to all the COPE-endorsed candidates, he said. But just as important were the volunteers who provided the “boots on the ground” that canvassed neighborhoods throughout the state in get-out-the-vote drives.

Louis said the St. Louis Labor Council and St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council were especially helpful in organizing rallies for the Democratic candidates that spurred greater enthusiasm for participation as well as voting among union members.

Another important contribution to the campaign was the help of international unions in sending full-time campaign workers to assist their locals in Missouri, he said.

“The cooperation among our internationals, and the help we got from locals and labor councils was terrific. And it made a big difference.”

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