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Missouri AFL-CIO sides with Clay over Carnahan, stays out of crowded lt gov. battle

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 4, 2012 - The Missouri AFL-CIO has made its endorsements for this fall’s elections – and U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, is not on the list.

Instead, the labor consortium, which represents tens of thousands of union workers around the state, is endorsing U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr., D-St. Louis, for re-election.

Carnahan is challenging Clay in the August primary because both got tossed into the same 1st congressional district during the once-every-10-years redistricting process completed last year. 

The AFL-CIO’s announcement is yet another blow to Carnahan’s effort to remain in Congress because labor support is important for any major Democrat in Missouri.

Both St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley also have endorsed Clay.

Carnahan became the target when Missouri learned it would lose one of its current nine congressional seats as of January. The Republican-controlled General Assembly drew the new congressional boundaries and overrode Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto.

Carnahan’s allies have gone to court. The state Supreme Court has yet to issue a final ruling on that map, even though candidate filing officially ended March 27.

Carnahan's only hope is that the high court tosses out the map and orders the General Assembly to draw up a new one. But even that scenario doesn't guarantee he'd end up in a different district.

The AFL-CIO also is making no endorsement in the crowded contest, in both major parties, for lieutenant governor.  Such a neutral stance could be seen as a signal that the state organization has opted against encouraging labor groups to side with a particular candidate, probably a Democrat.

Otherwise, the state AFL-CIO’s endorsement list is all Democratic. All but one are incumbents:

U.S. senator: Claire McCaskill

Governor: Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon

State treasurer: Clint Zweifel

Attorney general: Chris Koster

Secretary of state: Jason Kander

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.