© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Biden headlines national Democrats meeting this week in St. Louis

Amid state and national handwringing among Democratic officials and the faithful, Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine are headlining a meeting of national and regional Democrats in St. Louis later this week.

The occasion is the DNC's annual summer meeting, which also may unofficially serve as an audition of sorts for St. Louis' bid to host the Democratic presidential conventionin 2012. (Click here to check out one of the online "watch" sites.)

It's unlikely that the two-day meeting, which runs Thursday and Friday, will feature any diversions like entertainer Chuck Berry. Rather, the focus will be on the poor political climate that Democrats believe they are facing in this fall's mid-term elections.

Missouri -- or at least some of it -- already is attracting national attention as Exhibit A of how Democrats are handling the challenge. Besides the state's contentious U.S. Senate contest, the state's senior Democrat in Congress -- U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Lexington -- is a top Republican target this year.

Some area Democrats also are privately speculating that the overwhelming approval of Proposition C on the Aug. 3 primary ballot, which seeks to exempt Missouri from some of the federal health-care mandates, could put a crimp in St. Louis' chances of landing the convention. At a minimum, the ballot measure -- even if it is tossed out by the courts -- still exemplifies the voter unrest that Democrats need to defuse if they hope to cut their losses on Nov. 2.

(On the upside, for St. Louis Democrats: A majority of the city's voters rejected Prop C. The same can't be said for the state's key swing territory of St. Louis County.)

The continued national health-care debate is likely to come up at this week's DNC event since one scheduled speaker is U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the former governor of Kansas. Sebelius is charged with implementing the national health-care law, many provisions of which don't go into effect until 2014. Republicans hope to recapture control of Congress and the White House before then, with many -- including Missouri's GOP Senate nominee, southwest Missouri congressman Roy Blunt -- promising to repeal the health-care law if they succeed.

Biden, Kaine and Sebelius are to speak at the DNC's general meeting on Friday. They are to be joined by Missouri's two top Democrats -- U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and Gov. Jay Nixon -- who both have been dealing with the political fallout. Each has adopted a difference approach. McCaskill appears to favor more confrontation, while Nixon has opted for more accommodation.

What will be intriguing is if Nixon and McCaskill -- once rivals, now allies -- bring up their political approaches when each addresses the DNC officials.

Also set to speak Friday: St. Louis County Charlie Dooley, who has a keen political interest in the political climate -- and Democrats' approach to it -- since he will be on the November ballot as well.

Speaking Thursday to the DNC representatives, along with Kaine, will be St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and state Democratic Party chairman Craig Hosmer.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.

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.