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Montee kicks off her bid for lieutenant governor at City Hall

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 7, 2012 - Former state Auditor Susan Montee kicked off her campaign for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor this morning in the rotunda of St. Louis City Hall. Montee said she was the only candidate of "all of the parties that's ready to lead from day one."

"I have my experience outside of government to thank for that," Montee said. "My experience as an attorney, an accountant, a small business owner and a mother of schoolchildren gave me the perspective to understand the effect that legislation has on our daily lives. I took that experience into the state auditor's office where I was able to explore all of the facets of state government. And I truly have an understanding of the type of skills it takes to run this state."

Asked after her speech, Montee noted that the St. Louis area could be critical in determining the Democratic nominee.

"One thing about St. Louis -- at least inside the city -- most local elections are determined in the primary," Montee said. "So we've got a built-in reason for people to turn out and vote in a primary, which means you'll have more primary voters in this area. Plus, St. Louis is the largest voting bloc in the state. You definitely have to keep those things in mind."

Read the Beacon's earlier story below:

Former state Auditor Susan Montee has tapped St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay -- who endorsed her in November -- to introduce her at Tuesday's kickoff event at City Hall for her bid for Missouri lieutenant governor.

Slay's presence, as well as other local offiicials, appears aimed at highlighting Montee's effort to stake a political claim in the region.

All four of the so-far announced Democratic contenders for lieutenant governor are all women, and all are based outstate: Former state Rep. Judy Baker is from Columbia, state Rep. Sara Lampe hails from Springfield, and state conservation commissioner Becky Plattner is from central Missouri.

Montee is from St. Joseph, although she also has residences in Jefferson City and in St. Louis.

But the St. Louis area is the state's largest bloc of Democratic votes. And Montee's choice of the city for her kickoff is recognition of that fact and of her quest to lock in regional Democratic support.

To that end, her invitation list for Tuesday's kickoff is a who's who of regional Democrats. They include St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed and, according to her release, "20 elected officials.''

Montee's task could be easier since she is better known locally than her Democratic rivals. And Slay's endorsement could smooth the way for more regional Democratic support.

Such support is particularly important in crowded primaries. Montee no doubt already sees that Baker and Lampe, in particular, will help split the outstate vote.

Montee's aim also may be to curb the local politicial clout of Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican seeking a third term, who long has been on unusually good terms with St. Louis Democratic officials. (Kinder currently has other concerns, since he also has several announced or likely Republican rivals, including state Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah, Wentzville lawyer Mike Carter and state Sen. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville.)

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.
Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.