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Politically Speaking: Brown on right to work, school transfers and familiar political battles

State Rep. Cloria Brown
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On this edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies continue their look into south St. Louis County politics by welcoming state Rep. Cloria Brown onto the show.

Brown is a city of St. Louis native who had a successful career in information technology. After working her way through several jobs, Brown eventually became vice president of information systems for MasterCard International. She was one of the few women to be a leader in the male-dominated field.

Brown eventually became a GOP committeewoman for a portion of south St. Louis County. When then-state Rep. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, decided to run for the state Senate, Brown threw her hat in the ring to succeed him. But, in a Democratic wave election of 2008, Brown lost to Democrat Vicki Englund by nearly 10 percentage points.

Still, 2008 wasn’t the end for Brown’s political journey. She ran for the same House seat again in 2010 and ousted Englund. In 2012, Brown lost re-election to Englund after the district was substantially altered due to redistricting. And in 2014, she once again defeated Englund to return to the Missouri General Assembly.

Now that state Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton, decided to scrap his attorney general bid and run for re-election, Brown and Englund appear to be on a collision course for the fifth straight election cycle. The battle for the 94th House District will likely be one of the most competitive in the state.

You can listen to Englund’s episode of Politically Speaking by clicking here.

Here’s what Brown had to say during the show:

  • Democrats tend to have an advantage in her House district during presidential years because, she said, “more Democrats come out to vote in presidential years than the non-presidential years.”
  •  When asked what it was like to run against Englund for the fifth time, Brown said “I’m really not running against her ... When I go out, I’m talking to the voters about them and what problems they have,” she said. “I really don’t focus on her at all.”
  • She expects “right to work” to be a major issue during her latest campaign with Englund. While Brown’s parents were both in labor unions, she believes the policy would provide “checks and balances” for labor unions. “I believe that unions are necessary – they are a check against poor bosses,” she said. “However, I think you need right to work, because it is a check and balance for the worker against bad unions.”
  • Brown doesn’t expect any movement on school transfer legislation while Gov. Jay Nixon is in office. She voted in favor of the latest bill along with several other lawmakers from south St. Louis County, but the governor vetoed that bill.
  • Although Brown hasn't witnessed any sexual harassment in the Missouri Capitol, she said lawmakers must step up as “mandatory reporters” to any maleficence. She concurred that former House Speaker John Diehl would have been fired from a private company for exchanging sexually-charged texts with an intern.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Cloria Brown on Twitter: @cloriabrown

Music: “Ready to Start” by the Arcade Fire

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.

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