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Webster Groves is part of Carnahan's political present - and perhaps future

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 18, 2011 - Sporting a hat monogrammed just for the occasion, U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, spent Saturday morning touring businesses in Webster Groves -- a community in his current 3rd district.

Carnahan said in an interview that it was purely coincidental that the Old Webster business district he was visiting will be shifted as of 2013 into the new boundaries of the 2nd congressional district. Some Democrats are encouraging Carnahan to run in the 2nd District in 2012 since the new congressional redistricting map does away with his current 3rd District because the state is losing one of its nine seats.

The 2nd District's current member of Congress, Republican Todd Akin of Wildwood, is running for the U.S. Senate in a bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.

Carnahan's St. Louis residence will be moved into the 1st District, represented by fellow Democrat William Lacy Clay. The new 3rd District will be made up largely by the current 9th District, now represented by Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer of St. Elizabeth. The map protects all six current Republican members of Congress and two of three Democrats.

State Democratic Party chairwoman Susan Montee took note of the new map at Friday night's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner and allowed Carnahan to address the crowd of about 500 briefly.

McCaskill also blasted the new map -- drawn by Republicans controlling the General Assembly -- telling the J-J crowd that "no way is Missouri a 6-2 state...and we're going to show everyone that" in the 2012 election.

Saturday morning, Carnahan demurred when asked if he'd made a decision on his political plans for 2012.

He said his tour through Webster businesses was a typical activity when he's home from Washington. "We just do a lot of these kinds of things when I'm home,'' Carnahan said.

Businesswoman Patricia Richards, president of the Old Webster Trade Organization, told the congressman that small and intimate business districts like Old Webster offer a unique and vibrant setting for businesses and customers. "This environment is awesome,'' she said. "This, to me, is the backbone of business."

Richards is the founder of Embroider for the Occasion and presented Carnahan with a hat featuring his name and the logo of the Old Webster district.

The congressman sported the hat through the rest of his Webster tour. It also might come in handy if he runs in the 2nd District next year.

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.

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