Monday, July 18, 2005


Expect an ugly tussle for the 4th Missouri Senate District seat. Sen. Pat Dougherty is being term-limited out and there are plenty of willing replacements.

Jeff Smith, Rep. Rachel Storch (64th), Rep. Amber Boykins (60th), Rep. Yaphett S. El-Amin (57th) and Rep. Fred Kratky (65th) are all potential candidates. Several have already filed, but not all.

Progressives are concerned that Smith and Storch could split the vote and allow not-so-progressive Kratky in. There is also concern that Boykins and El-Amin could fracture the African-American vote. The combination of so many potential conflicts leaves the whole mess up in the air until they work it out amongst themselves.

Smith and Storch have reportedly already had a contentious meeting that settled nothing.

Of those two, the feeling may be that progressives would almost prefer Smith over Storch. Nothing against Storch, but with progressives in the Missouri House finding it hard to put together enough people for a softball team, it is important to that progressives maintain a presence. If Storch gives up her seat, there is no guarantee a similarly progressive person would take it over.

Storch must also overcome a promise she made to her constituents that she was not simply looking at the seat as a step on the political ladder. She may be able to argue that she is still serving her constituents, just as a Senator and not a Rep, but some may harbor some doubts about her. Everyone knew that Douherty was out after this term, so if she had been mulling a run for the Senate then she may have a hard time with her constituents. They will undoubtedly make her work for each and every vote.

Boykins and El-Amin may be working on some form of a deal. Until Dougherty was appointed to take over the 4th Senate seat after Rep. Lacy Clay moved up to the U.S. House 1st Congressional District, it was filled by and African-American for many years. Undoubtedly there are leaders in the African-American community who would like to see it return.

This potential squabble coming on the heels of a 10 person primary to succeed Rep. Richard Gephardt in the 3rd Congressional District could potentially leave some longing for the old days of machine politics. Back in the day, the machine decided who, what, when and where.

While it may have kept this type of conflict out of the papers, it also kept out the people and ideas that challenged the status quo.

St. Louis still maintains a machine-style system, but its heyday is long past. A return to such tactics is unwelcome, but so are public intra-party fights.

The resolution of this situation may well demonstrate whether the party members will be able to play well together and work for common cause, or if ambition will rule the day.

- Murphy

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