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Icet's biggest beef about Montee: She campaigned for Obama

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 31, 2009 - State Rep. Allen Icet officially kicked off his campaign for state auditor Thursday night before about 200 supporters by taking aim at -- President Barack Obama.

Icet, R-Wildwood, decried "the liberal policies of the Obama administration and what he's trying to do to us'' in an address that focused almost exclusively on national issues.

Icet cited the cap-and-trade energy proposal that passed the U.S. House, and which critics say will force fuel and electricity costs to skyrocket; the costly federal stimulus package aimed at improving the troubled economy in Missouri and the country; and the largely Democratic effort to revamp the nation's health care system.

The upshot, as Icet sees it, is that the Democratic president's policies "not only will bankrupt this nation'' but also are threatening "the freedoms that we enjoy as a Republic."

Icet, now chairman of the Missouri House Budget Committee, asserted that "Washington, D.C. is continuing to infringe on the 10th Amendment'' which guarantees state's rights.

Icet went so far as to compare some of the Obama administration's actions and plans to those put in place in the island communist nation of Cuba.

Icet's approach was a crowd-pleaser among most of those partaking of the food, drink and banter at the Genesis Banquet Center in south St. Louis County. The event was on the turf of state Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, who lauded Icet's record and his views.

Lembke, who served in the state House before moving to the Senate, told the crowd that for years Icet has shared his quest for changing the state's judicial-selection system in order to "get our judiciary under control."

Lembke also emphasized to the social conservatives in the room that Icet was staunchly "pro-life'' and against abortion.

Icet let others discuss such state specifics, opting instead to highlight his political philosophy as he continued to take aim at the Democrats controlling Washington.

At one point, Icet quoted from the nation's Declaration of Independence -- especially the part stating the actions of those governing need to be with the approval of the governed.

"Did anyone consent to what's happening?'' he asked.

Icet noted that the current state auditor, Democrat Susan Montee, was among the earliest supporters of Obama's president bid and had campaigned around the country for him.

In a brief interview afterwards, Icet said that Montee's ties to Obama could be an issue when the campaign heats up next year -- depending on the state of the nation's economy.

The federal financial actions are a legitimate topic for the state auditor's contest, Icet said, because the auditor's duties include some oversight of how other state offices handle their money -- federal or state.

Icet made no mention in his remarks, or in the interview, of his Republican rival, Washington University law professor Tom Schweich, who kicked of his candidacy several weeks ago and also focused on national issues.

Schweich has the support of some of the region's most prominent Republicans, including former U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth, who praise Schweich's record in various national posts under former President George W. Bush.

But Lembke, in his remarks before Icet took to the mike, took a veiled jab at Schweich by lauding the devotion of the grassroots supporters in Icet's audience. Lembke said it was volunteers, not big names, that made the difference in his own close election last year -- and he predicted they could likely do the same for Icet.

"This is the way you win primaries,'' Lembke said, his arms spanning the filled room.

St. Louis County GOP chairman Rich Magee observed in an interview that Icet already appears to be reaping the rewards of his own hard work -- and hefty donations -- to various Republican candidates in the November 2008 elections.

Icet said he doled out tens of thousands of dollars last fall to underscore his commitment to keeping the state House in GOP hands. But Magee and others say that Icet's political generosity also has helped him collect the 80-plus endorsements he has collected so far from fellow Republican legislators.

Former state Rep. Carl Bearden, now a political activist, asserted that Icet has an edge over Schweich because "he's been in the trenches more."

Chris Brown, past president of the conservative Missouri Republican Assembly, said that Icet has the loyalty of many area social conservatives. And Thursday night's attacks on Washington certainly didn't hurt.

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.