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Chappelle-Nadal buries the hatchet, as Koster headlines her latest fundraising event

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Five years after she endorsed a Republican for Missouri attorney general, state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal is holding a fundraising event where the headliner is the Democrat she had rejected in 2008: now-Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

The shift is in line with the well-known mantra of former U.S. Rep. William L. Clay Sr., D-St. Louis, who observed that in politics, "there are no permanent enemies, and no permanent friends. Only permanent interests."

Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, is raising money at Tuesday night’s event at Cicero’s restaurant for her 2014 re-election bid.

Koster, slated to speak, leads a cadre of at least 15 area legislators who are listed as backers of Chappelle-Nadal.

Chappelle-Nadal says she’s now a huge fan of Koster and is supporting his 2016 bid for Missouri governor. “I think he’s done a great job, actually,” the senator said.

“He has been so generous to help out other legislators and Democrats,” Chappelle-Nadal added. But the key reason she’s now in Koster’s camp is that “he listens.”

“He is the future governor,” Chappelle-Nadal said. “I want to be able to have a governor who listens.”

Over the past year, she said, she and Koster have been building a political relationship aimed at moving beyond those 2008 differences. “It started with a lunch,” Chappelle-Nadal said.

Chappelle-Nadal had been critical of Koster in 2008, in part, because he had just switched parties in 2007. She was among a number of area Democrats who were wary of Koster’s switch and his decision soon after to run for statewide office, although that meant he was involved in a crowded Democratic primary, which he barely won.

Chappelle-Nadal then caused a stir when she announced she was endorsing the GOP candidate for attorney general, former Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons of Kirkwood. Koster still won.

Since taking office in 2009, Koster has attempted to mend fences with disgruntled Democrats like Chappelle-Nadal. Earlier this year, he won praise at the Missouri Democrats’ Jefferson-Jackson Dinner when he pledged to help raise money and campaign for Democratic legislative candidates and incumbents – who now are massively outnumbered in the state House and Senate.

Since then, Koster has been a regular at several area Democratic fundraising events, including those for state Reps. Stacey Newman of Richmond Heights, and Jill Schupp of Creve Coeur (who is running for the state Senate in 2014).

Chappelle-Nadal praised his recent Urban Summit this summer, saying that Koster has listened to her suggestion that it include St. Louis County officials – and the county police – as well as those in the city.

“He actually is taking some of my suggestions,” she said.

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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