The Democratic race for governor in Missouri is heating up like a typical Missouri summer. Challenger Claire McCaskill has turned up the heat on incumbent Gov. Bob Holden in a new series of television ads and Holden has responded with similar attacks on McCaskill. I suspect the next couple of weeks will bring more of the negative ads. And the reason is because there's ample ammunition for such a political attack.
McCaskill is right - Holden has been extremely ineffective as a governor. And Holden is right - he has been faced with a strong opposition majority in the Missouri Legislature and many of his suggestions were dead on arrival. I strongly suspect that most Missouri voters get lost in these various political messages. All most voters understand is that their roads need fixed and they don't want to pay higher taxes. Into this political season comes none other than the late Gov. Mel Carnahan in the form of a strong endorsement ad from his widow, the former appointed Sen. Jean Carnahan.
Holden believes - and he may be right - that the Carnahan name still carries some political clout in Missouri and thus he has enlisted the support of Jean Carnahan. In some circles that endorsement may turn some votes. But then again, McCaskill has the strong endorsement of former acting Gov. Roger Wilson and his name still has a great degree of respect in Democratic politics.
I'm not at all sure just how much impact the political endorsements carry. Granted, endorsements are a longtime tradition in all politics and for those who are sitting on the political fence, an endorsement may nudge them one way or the other.
The first rule in Missouri politics - at least for the time being - is that you can say nothing bad about the Carnahan clan. So I'll respect that rule up to a point. But I wouldn't put too much weight in the endorsement of Jean Carnahan and I'll leave it at that.
If endorsements carried the day then Matt Blunt should enlist the support of U.N. Ambassador John Danforth. Clearly and with good reason, Danforth is the most respected Missouri political leader in either party. Hands down! But even that endorsement should be taken in the same context as any other. And in the end, it's the candidate who will have to do the job, not those speaking on his or her behalf.