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Carnahan confident the Missouri Supreme Court will rescue his district

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 17, 2012 - U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, says the Missouri Supreme Court is "the closest thing to a level playing field" in his continued fight to resurrect his congressional district, which was dismantled last spring by the Missouri General Assembly.

Carnahan said in an interview Monday night that he was optimistic that the court will toss out the new congressional-district map and order a new one drawn up. The congressman said he listened to last Thursday's court hearing on the internet.

"I am running for re-election,'' Carnahan said, adding that it was "a false choice'' for him to discuss what district he will run in, if his current 3rd District is not restored.

As a result, he declined to discuss whether he would run in the new GOP-leaning 2nd District -- where no well-known Democrat has yet to announce -- or in the 1st District against U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, a fellow St. Louis Democrat. Under the General Assembly's map, Carnahan's home is in Clay's district.

Redistricting was among several issues that Carnahan discussed with reporters after meeting with a group of supportive local business leaders, labor groups and nonprofits.

During the 80-minute session, Carnahan highlighted what he considered some of 2011's best local news -- among them, new aircraft contracts for Boeing Co. and federal grants for Metro, the region's public transit agency.

Several in the audience, in turn, praised the congressman for his efforts on several fronts. Former state Rep. Jeff Roorda, now business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, stood up to praise Carnahan's support for various federal crime-fighting grants. "You were there for us," Roorda said.

Carnahan said later that the session was among a series of meetings that he and his congressional staff -- separate from his campaign -- have held to get the public's views on various issues. The upshot of this event, he said, was that the public continues to be concerned primarily about the economy and the acrimony in Congress.

"People want the country to work," Carnahan said, "and they expect leaders to roll up their sleeves."

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.