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Politically Speaking: Teresa Hensley on how her experience makes her good fit for attorney general

Teresa Hensley
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome back Democratic attorney general nominee Teresa Hensley to the program.

Hensley is squaring off against Republican Josh Hawley in the general election for attorney general. Hawley recorded an episode of the podcast last week that can be found here.

A native of Peculiar, Missouri, Hensley spent several years in private practice before Gov. Bob Holden appointed her as Cass County prosecutor in 2005. She replaced Chris Koster, who had just won a seat (as a Republican) to the Missouri Senate. Hensley spent roughly a decade as Cass County prosecutor and successfully prosecuted a number of high-profile murder cases.

In 2012, Hensley challenged U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, to represent the 4th Congressional District, which includes swaths of western and central Missouri. Hartzler won re-election by a wide margin. Two years later, Hensley lost re-election as Cass County prosecutor.

Hensley entered the Democratic attorney general’s race soon after state Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton, bowed out of the contest.Even though St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman outspent her during the primary, Hensley emerged victorious by a fairly decisive margin. Her television ads started airing throughout Missouri, and they emphasize her experience as a prosecutor.

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

  • She recently had a "great visit" with Zimmerman, who has vigorously backed Hensley's general election bid. "I look forward to what he has in his future in Missouri and politics -- and will support him along the way," she said.
  • Responding to Hawley's assertion that she doesn't have enough appellate experience, Hensley said she's argued in front of appellate courts in private practice and as Cass County prosecutor. She noted that she argued in front of the Missouri Supreme Court to remove a county official.
  • Hensley panned a recently enacted gun law that, among other things, makes it easier to conceal and carry a weapon. "It's probably one of the worst bills that we can possibly have," she said. "We're the first state since Florida to have done a 'Stand Your Ground' [law]."
  • While she supports the Second Amendment, Hensley said the next attorney general must be proactive against gun violence in Missouri's urban communities. "Again, as the top prosecutor in the state of Missouri, I think you better be ready to talk about the prevention of gun violence," she said. "St. Louis and Kansas City cannot continue on with the gun violence.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Teresa Hensley on Twitter: @VoteHensley

Music: “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart” by Stone Temple Pilots

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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