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Politically Speaking: Robert Butler hopes Jefferson County voters make Senate seat Democratic

Robert Butler, candidate for 22nd District Senate seat Oct. 2018
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Robert Butler, candidate for 22nd District Senate seat

Democrat Robert Butler is the latest guest on Politically Speaking. He joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Abigail Censky to talk about his bid for the 22nd District Senate seat.

Butler is running against incumbent Sen. Paul Wieland, an Imperial Republican who first captured the Jefferson County-based district in 2014. Wieland’s episode of Politically Speaking was posted on Monday.

Butler is an attorney who has lived in Jefferson County for more than 20 years. The Barnhart resident is not a first-time candidate: He ran twice for a state House seat encompassing part of northern Jefferson County, losing both times to House Majority Leader Rob Vescovo.

This election cycle, Butler decided to run against Wieland in a district that takes in about half of Jefferson County. While a Democrat hastraditionally represented the district, Republicans have made inroads in local and state races over the past few election cycles.

Butler is hoping to benefit from the repeal of the right-to-work law, which barred unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues as a condition of employment. Jefferson County voters overwhelmingly voted against Proposition A in August, which would have kept the law in place.

Here’s what Butler said during the show:

  • He believes that Jefferson County voters are open to voting for Democrats right now, especially after the right-to-work law’s failure in August. “It’s a very strong labor county,” he said. “When I go door-to-door, people are concerned about health care. They’re concerned about working families’ issues. They’re concerned about things like minimum wage.”
  • While Wieland has voted against a number of bills curbing union rights, Butler points to a number votes that he contends are detrimental to organized labor. “And labor recognizes that the job is not done,” he said.
  • If legislation that’s harmful to labor comes to the floor of the Senate, Butler said he’s prepared to filibuster for as long as it takes to kill it. “That’s why my race is so important,” he said. “We have 10 Democratic state senators right now. There are really only a few competitive seats in the entire state — and this is one of them. And if the Democrats are going to have a voice at the table, particularly for labor, this is going to be one of the seats we have to win.”
  • Like some other Democrats in Jefferson County, Butler is opposed to abortion rights. He was one of the few Democratic candidates endorsed by Missouri Right to Life in the primary. “I am generally against abortion — I don’t make any bones about that,” he said. However, he said, “I don’t support efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. I think contraception should be accessible to people from all socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Abigail Censky on Twitter: @AbigailCensky

Learn more about Butler’s campaign by clicking here.

Music: “Victory” by Puff Daddy and The Family

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