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Danforth v. Danforth: Former Wash U chief aiding Carnahan, while brother sticks with GOP

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 8, 2009 - June is always a major month for political fundraising, because it comes after the legislative session and before summer's backed schedule of holidays and vacations.

But this June is particularly noteworthy for a couple events on tap.

Former Washington University chancellor William Danforth is offering up his home for a meet-and-greet later this month to aid a candidate billed in the invitation as "Missouri's next U.S. Senator."

The honoree is the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

News of the June 23 event comes as Danforth's brother, former U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth, R-Mo., is set to be feted later this week by the Missouri Republican Party for his longstanding service to Republican causes and candidates.

The former senator already is prompting some party turmoil over his actions to promote a possible Republican Senate bid by visiting Washington University law professor Thomas Schweich, a former member of the Bush administration and a Clayton High School grad.

Many Republican politicians, including outgoing Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., are supporting U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Strafford.

UPDATE: Retired chancellor Danforth confirmed late Monday that he was backing Carnahan. As for his political differences with his brother on this race, "I do not even tell my family whom I support," the chancellor said.

But it's likely that his actions came as little surprise to relatives. On March 31, he made a $2,400 contribution to Carnahan's Senate campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records. (The FEC actually shows two donations of $2,400, but one reflects an amended version of the initial report.)

Carnahan campaign spokesman Tony Wyche said today, "We're pleased to have him host such an event and for the support he has provided for Robin's campaign."

The chancellor's apparent decision to support Carnahan could be tied to the continued turmoil in the state Legislature and political circles over certain forms of stem-cell research. She says she supports all forms of stem-cell research allowed under federal law, which includes some types of embryonic stem-cell research opposed by anti-abortion groups.

Carnahan's stance is in line with the view of both Danforths, and some other prominent local Republicans -- notably former Bush ambassadors Sam Fox and Bert Walker, who also are praising Schweich.

Blunt generally has sided with the anti-abortion camp, and Schweich's comments have been somewhat in the middle.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.