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Politically Speaking: Democrat Russ Carnahan on the spirited race for Missouri lieutenant governor

Russ Carnahan October 2016
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Russ Carnahan

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 lieutenant governor hopeful Russ Carnahan.

The former congressman and state representative easily won a Democratic primary earlier this year. He’s squaring off against GOP lieutenant governor nominee Mike Parson. Parson recorded an episode of Politically Speaking that can be found here.

Carnahan served in the U.S. House, filling the old 3rd District seat, from 2005 through the end of 2012. Earlier, Carnahan spent about four years in the Missouri House, representing southern and eastern parts of St. Louis.

Russ Carnahan comes from a distinguished political family. His grandfather, A.S.J. Carnahan, served in Congress and as an ambassador. His father, Mel Carnahan, was elected to three statewide offices, including two terms as Missouri’s governor. His mother, Jean Carnahan, served in the U.S. Senate for two years, from 2001 until early 2003, after her husband died in plane crash while campaigning in October 2000. (Mel Carnahan remains the only person to have been elected to the U.S. Senate posthumously.) Russ Carnahan's sister, Robin Carnahan, was elected to two terms as secretary of state.

The lieutenant governor sits a number of key boards that dole out tax incentives, including the Missouri Development Finance Board. The officeholder also is president of the Missouri Senate and can preside over the chamber’s proceedings. There’s some speculation that the Senate Democratic minority could benefit from a Democratic lieutenant governor.

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

  • Carnahan says he’s repaired his relationship with U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay. Carnahan lost to Clay in a contentious Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District in 2012. “It was never personal,” he said. “And after he won, I congratulated him. I encouraged my supporters to support him. And we’ve worked together closely since.”
  • Carnahan said he supports the low-income housing tax credit, an incentive that conservative lawmakers have targeted over the years. If he’s elected lieutenant governor, Carnahan would have a vote on the Missouri Development Finance to approve the incentive.
  • He says he have influence in the GOP-controlled Senate, even if Republicans hold a supermajority.
  • Carnahan says it’s unfortunate that a dispute between Gov. Jay Nixon and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder ended up killing the Tour of Missouri bike race. “It got balled up in political games with officials in state government – and that’s too bad,” he said. “Because we lost something that I think was beneficial to our state.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Russ Carnahan on Twitter: @russcarnahan

“Cherub Rock” by the Smashing Pumpkins

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.