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Politically Speaking: David Barklage on Missouri's unpredictable political landscape

David Barklage
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On this week’s edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome GOP political consultant David Barklage to the program for the first time.

The Cape Girardeau native possesses a two-fold claim to political fame: He played a big role in building big Republican majorities in the Missouri Senate and he long served as a key political adviser to Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.

Barklage is part owner of the consulting firm Barklage Knodell, with offices in St. Louis and Jefferson City.

Barklage is a former elected official himself, having been elected to the Cape Girardeau City Council during his senior year of college at Southeast Missouri State University. In addition to consulting on political campaigns, Barklage and his company have advised AmerenUE, the Missouri Hospital Association and Fred Weber Inc.

Besides Kinder, Barklage has also been a consultant for the late state Auditor Tom Schweich, who committed suicide Feb. 26.  After Schweich's death,  Barklage publicly called for fellow Republicans to  ratchet down the negativity in their campaigns. Healso apologized “for any time during my career either by calculation or pure emotion I have struck others unfairly. It is not what I signed up for.”

Among the other highlights:

  • Many border states, such as Missouri, have drifted to the Republican column over the past couple of decades, he said, because Democrats have become an “urban party” with difficulty attracting outstate conservatives.
  • Barklage is helping St. Louis businessman John Brunner, who is considering a 2016 bid for governor. But Kinder also may jump in the contest.  Asked if his longstanding alliance with Kinder would be over, if he competes against Brunner, Barklage replied: “Peter is going to make whatever decision he makes and I’m supportive of his career...My view is: Who is the strongest candidate against (Democratic candidate) Chris Koster and who will be a very good leader once elected? And I think John Brunner is the strongest candidate for many reasons.”
  • Asked about a particularly hard-hitting ad against former state Auditor Susan Montee in 2012,Barklage said, “I think you have a regret in a campaign of anything you say or do negative. When you report a story that outs someone and destroys a career, I don’t think you get up the next day gleefully.”
  • Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard miscalculated in bringing “right to work” up for a final, forced vote near the end of the session, he said, adding that Richard should have done it earlier in the session.
  • While it may seem like Gov. Jay Nixon's “right to work” veto will have a tough time being overridden, Barklage said the dynamics change if a GOP lawmaker becomes the “one vote” standing between a failed override and implementation of the policy.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow David Barklage on Twitter: Either #BarklageCup or @BarklageKnodell

Music: “Come On! Feel the Illinoise! (Part I: The World's Columbian Exposition – Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me in a Dream)” by Sufjan Stevens

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