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Musing about local, state, national races

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

As the coffee shop conversations turn to politics these days, lost in that discussion too often is the race for governor and senator in Missouri.

That's not to say that there is absolutely no dialogue on these important Missouri races. But facts are facts, and these key races in our home state are not on the minds of most Missourians.

Incumbent Gov. Jay Nixon just announced recently that he is sitting on a $6 million war chest in preparation for his re-election effort. And by virtually all measures, Gov. Nixon should be positioned fairly well to recapture the top seat in Missouri government.

Granted, what happens between now and November will surely color the tone of this race. But the reality is that many state races will depend on the turnout and momentum of the presidential race in Missouri.

There is a constant drumbeat to connect incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill to the coat tails of the Obama administration. The conventional wisdom is that connecting McCaskill and Obama will not serve her re-election efforts in the primarily-conservative rural areas of Missouri.

Incumbent Rep. JoAnn Emerson will face what I believe is nominal opposition again this year. When Emerson clobbered Tom Sowers and his $1.2 million campaign fund two years ago, I became convinced that the seat is hers until she decides to retire.

And yes, in politics there is never a "sure thing," but Emerson is about as close as you can get, in my opinion.

In our little corner of the state, the races for the Missouri House and Senate will provide some interesting competition across the board.

Finally getting down to the local level, county races are shaping up in just about every nook and cranny of our region.

But from a statewide standpoint, the central question is how the presidential race will shape up in Missouri.

It goes without saying that national trends impact statewide races. And if anyone can today predict the presidential outcome in Missouri with any educated accuracy, you know more than the rest of us.

It's easy to assume that the outcome of the presidential race will have a greater impact on our lives than statewide races.

But the reality is that these more local races play an active role in the future of our communities and our region.

As it now stands - and with absolutely no clear data to suggest otherwise - the incumbents in Missouri and elsewhere appear in a more favorable position than any shining new star on the horizon.

Do a strong incumbent governor and senator offer the possibility of helping the presidential outcome here? Or does the presidential race completely overshadow our statewide races and give hope and promise to GOP challengers?

For most of us, November can't come soon enough.

Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen