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Blunt to Purgason: I'm Carnahan's chief target -- not you

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 4, 2009 - U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Springfield and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, says there's a good reason why he's paying more attention to the Democratic candidate, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, than he is to his GOP rival, state Sen. Chuck Purgason.

Blunt was disputing Purgason's claim that the congressman is unfairly ignoring him.

"Robin Carnahan and her friends are focusing on my candidacy, and so am I,'' said Blunt in an interview Thursday, after an energy roundtable he'd co-hosted in St. Louis with U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.

The roundtable -- held at Devan Sealants Inc. in north St. Louis -- had featured about a dozen small businessmen and farmers, and focused primarily on their fears of the economic impact of cap-and-trade -- the House-passed proposal that seeks to limit pollution by imposing a cap. Firms that may exceed the limit can trade or purchase pollution "credits" with other companies who emit fewer contaminants.

Blunt and Shimkus had voted against the bill, and repeatedly underscored the concerns aired by the panelists.

"We figure, if this thing goes through, that we'll lose half our business,'' said Al Koller of his family's firm, Koller-Craft Plastic Products of Fenton.

Higher prices for energy will also up the prices for materials used in making plastic items, which he said would put U.S. firms like Koller-Craft at a disadvantage with foreign competition, especially from China.

Others told similar stories. Local bakery brothers Randy and David McArthur -- who made news with their electronic sign blasting Rep. Russ Carnahan, a cap-and-trade supporter -- said they'd be forced out of business.

Later, Shimkus knocked some of the "green jobs'' talk of environmental groups and some unions. "It's a fallacy that we can run our economy on wind and solar power,'' the congressman said.

He cited the environmental push in Spain, which Shimkus said has contributed to hat country's distinction of having the highest unemployment rate in Europe.

Blunt said he wasn't opposed to energy efficiency and "green jobs" -- "but not at the expense of current jobs.''

It's uncertain whether the cap-and-trade bill will pass the U.S. Senate. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has said it's likely toast in its current form. Blunt and Shimkus said if the bill dies, credit should go to Republicans and their allies (like the Tea Party crowd) for being so vocal with their criticisms.

Blunt noted that he has been the target of environmental and conservation groups, some of which have been running sporatic ad campaigns against him.

Later Thursday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also released a new Internet attack ad that targets a handful of prominent Republican candidates, including Blunt.

Such attacks fit in with Blunt's assertion that his chief opponent isn't Purgason.

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.