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McCaskill Rallies Democrats, Aide Kicks Jeff Smith Out of Meeting

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, September 06, 2006 at 7:15 PM


U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill met yesterday with several St. Louis area Democratic elected officials to emphasize the importance of the upcoming statewide elections and to heal whatever wounds may remain from last month's Primary fights.

Mayor Francis Slay, Comptroller Darlene Green, State Senator Maida Coleman, State Reps. John Bowman, Robin Wright-Jones, Yaphett El-Amin, Connie Johnson, soon-to-be State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, City Democratic Committee Chair Brian Wahby and most of the committee members were at the meeting at McCaskill's city headquarters in the St. Louis Marketplace on Manchester. But one recently elected city Democrat did not attend -- and not for lack of trying.

Jeff Smith, who recently won a tough primary election for State Senate and has no opposition in the general election, was stopped at the door and asked to leave by McCaskill's political director, Brandon Davis. He told Smith the meeting was only for "elected officials."

At least two of those elected officials voiced some concerns they had with McCaskill and the direction of the state party.

Committeewoman Norma Leggette (4th Ward) told McCaskill that she wasn't sure what to tell her constituents about what the Democratic Party stood for anymore. She said she felt the there were two parties in the City -- one white, one black.

Committeeman Joe Palm (26th Ward) said that McCaskill's opponent, Sen. Jim Talent, was making strong inroads into the black community. He claimed the incumbent Republican has been making promises of financial aid to black church leaders and even some northside politicos. Palm warned McCaskill that gimmicks won't increase voter turnout.

"I know I lost, but my opponents in my [State Rep] race had a big truck with video and signs too, and the turnout was still terrible," said Palm. He said the Republicans have gimmicks too. "Talent lit the Arch up pink," he said referring to Talent's bill that authorized bathing the Gateway Arch in pink lights to bring attention to breast cancer.

McCaskill listened quietly to Palm and Leggette before taking the floor. In a spirited voice, she told them that she would do everything she could to make clear to every Democratic voter that "George Bush has no better friend than Jim Talent."

McCaskill said she would remind people that "George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black."

"That's what I'm talking about," interrupted Palm. "Your people should be videotaping that right now!"

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Doug Duckworth said...

Clarie Clarie...

The only way you will win is by making Talent look like Bush, and by attacking his conservative voting record. Given Bushs' extremely low polling numbers, you might be able to pull this off.

Yet this game disgusts me. I find both Talent and Claire horrible candiates with no new message. I am voting for a 3rd Party Candiate instead.

Strong unifying leadership is required to lead the United States into the New American Century. A new message for this century is required. Alas, its much eaiser fall into partisan politics because the base will always support you.

Or will it?

Alienating hardworking grassroots candiates like Jeff Smith is not a good strategy. This is one of the reasons you lost my vote. Maybe you lost more as well?

9/06/2006 8:38 PM

Bubba said...

Is this the same Brandon Davis who also emberrassed McCaskill at the NAACP event? Is this the same Brandon Davis who many people are still mad at because of his incompetence during Gov. Holden's re-election bid? It saddens me as a Democrat when good hard working ELECTED OFFICIALS like Senator Smith offer their time, volunteers, political organization, to other candidates only to get treated like this. McCaskill ought to vet who she hires much better it seems to me. Shame. Shame. Shame.

9/06/2006 9:04 PM

Anonymous said...

How are we Democrats ever going to rescue this country if we can't stop fighting amongst ourselves. Bubba is right, good Dem candidates trying to help elect other Dems should be treated like kings and queens for heaven's sake.

9/06/2006 9:08 PM

STAR JONES said...

Jeff Smith is like Rodney Dangerfield he "Don't get no respect"!

9/06/2006 10:11 PM

Doug Duckworth said...


Jeff and other grassroots candidates should recieve respect or the political elite may find themselves in quite the battle.

Grassroots activism reveals the inherent vulnerability of complacent ruling-by-authority officials. They can sit in their wonderful office believing they have it made, when in fact they have quite the fight ahead. Hopefully the grassroots movement continues in St. Louis as it is one of the more direct variations of democracy that exist in our indirect unrepresentative polyarchical system.

9/06/2006 11:32 PM

St. Louis Oracle said...

Jeff Smith's girlfriend is a Claire staffer. That must have made the snub all the more humiliating.

9/07/2006 12:30 AM

Anonymous said...

We'd all better settle down and stop with the whining. As we speak this President and Congress have us deeply involved in a questionable war; they have spent every dime the country has and they've ruined our reputation throughout the world. I like Jeff Smith and wish Claire's staff would do better but I'm certainly not going to cast a 'protest' vote for a 3rd party candidate. People's lives are on the line. We'd better act like grown-ups.

9/07/2006 1:05 AM

Brian Harris said...

After reading this article I will not be voting for mccaskill. 1st she wouldnt let jeff smith in because he's not an "elected offical" but let soon-to-be State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed! Then to she he talk about how bush let blacks die in new orleans --> To try to get votes out of the black community in ---> St. louis??? Sour topic, we have enough problems of our own, that low blow didnt need to be thrown, and joe palm "asshole" is egging her on,,, Who in the hell is puttin these people in office?

9/07/2006 1:10 AM

Brian Harris said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/07/2006 1:13 AM

Anonymous said...

I, too, had problems with this Davis character during Governor Holden's race. As a local activist, I was in charge of scheduling several events of a political nature during the summer of '04. I could never get a straight answer and often not even a response from this guy, no matter how many times I called. My best chance of getting anything done with Gov. Holden was to get ahold of anyone else who could overrule this guy's decisions. Claire's staff back then was always responsive and she attended several of our events.

It's no wonder Gov. Holden lost. I can't believe this ignorant snub of Jeff Smith. I won't be voting for a 3rd party candidate -- i'll be voting for Claire, but even though I had gotten over the resentment of her challenge to Holden, this incident is enough to insure that I don't lift a finger to help her. I've been down this path too many times to have to deal with this same problem. I can only hope for her sake and for Democrat's sake that Claire's other staffers are good enough to make up for this.

9/07/2006 1:32 AM

Anonymous said...

Antonio it is definitely disappointing for you to come into a strategic, elected Democratic Officials meeting and report slanted, slanderous, false, inflamatory, poorly conveyed, poorly edited information from a meeting on a public website without the express permission of anyone that attended the meeting.

People in attendance were not aware that they were being videotaped or that falsely edited messages would be reported back to the public. In addition, the messages on this website are very offensive that you have allowed to remain.

I hope the Republicans are paying you and your crew well Antonio French, because you are definitely not a friend of Democrats and your reporting was not intended to bring any Democrats together!!!!!

Who the hell invited you anyway?

9/07/2006 1:43 AM

Doug Duckworth said...


This is not a Democratic website and Antonio is free to report the blunders of any party.

It so happens that the Democratic party made quite the error.

Do you actually think Antonio voted for Gambaro? Perhaps Antonio is pointing out the disconnect between the political elite and the grassroots movement? Perhaps he is promoting the message of unity?

9/07/2006 1:49 AM

Anonymous said...

You really think that nobody recognized Antonio French and nobody thought they were being filmed? If anyone deserves shame it's Claire's staff for allowing a member of the media/blogger into an event that they wanted to keep private. Poor work on their part for running the event so poorly.

9/07/2006 1:53 AM

Anonymous said...

Antonio French is really trying to become a problem for some people in St. Louis!

9/07/2006 1:57 AM

Anonymous said...

Don't worry because Antonio French doesn't care about anything anyway, except one thing.

9/07/2006 1:59 AM

Doug Duckworth said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/07/2006 2:09 AM

Doug Duckworth said...

Listen all you late night naysayers:

When some controversy occurs it is the medias job to report such debacle.

If the elites can't deal with it, then they should get some damage prevention rather than investing in damage control.

Get with the program.

This is the Internet age. We can report your mistakes in less than one hour. If you can't adapt, then you are obsolete.

The more corruption occurs, the more Antonio's you will see stepping up to take the place of the media which has sold out their obligation for the bottom line.

9/07/2006 2:11 AM

Anonymous said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/07/2006 2:27 AM

Anonymous said...

The world looks mighty good to me, because tootsie rolls are all I see, whatever it is I think I see, becomes a toosie roll to me, tootsie rolls have a bunch of *@#&#^ chew, tootsie roll I think I'm in love with you.

Lets all chew up some tootsie rolls for the good times.

9/07/2006 2:33 AM

Anonymous said...

Check this out Antonio French, Doug Duckworth and whoever else:

If I can't do well, homey, it can't be done
Now I'ma let the champagne bottle pop
I'ma take it to the top
Fo sho I'ma make it hot, baby (baby)

In the game there's up's and down's, so I stay on the grind
Some people on my $#@$ more than my &$#%@$, I stay on they mind
They aint nothin they could do to stop my shine
This is God's plan homey, this ain't mine
I played the music loud so Grandpa called me a nuisance
And Grandma; who always gotta throw in her two cents
I'm the drop out who made more money than these teachers
Ruthless like the Coupe but I come with more features
I am whut I am, you could like it or love it
It feels good to pull 50 grand & think nothin of it
*&^% it

If I can't do well, homey, it can't be done
Now I'ma let the champagne bottle pop
I'ma take it to the top
Fo sho I'ma make it hot, baby (baby)

If I can't do well, homey, it can't be done
Now I'ma let the champagne bottle pop
I'ma take it to the top
Fo sho I'ma make it hot, baby (baby)

9/07/2006 2:56 AM

Anonymous said...

50 Cent really applies to this!

9/07/2006 3:08 AM

Doug Duckworth said...

One last point:

George Bush did not let people die in New Orleans.

The failure occurred at every level of government. We can directly blame the human destruction of the natural barriers in New Orleans. The situation in New Orleans is entirely the result of unchecked human interaction with the environment. The government, at all levels, failed to regulate such interaction and to ensure the protection of New Orleans. This is a national security, personal safety, bureaucratic, enginering, and environmental disaster.

I think we should be careful using the death of the innocent as political tactic, especially when government in general, and human ignorance, is the cause of the New Orleans disaster. One single person is not responsible. It is quite low to lead the people to believe that the evil GWB is solely responsible.

9/07/2006 3:20 AM

Brian Harris said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/07/2006 3:44 AM

Travis Reems said...


I wonder if the McCaskill aide just didn't recognize Jeff Smith, as he can look young at times. I am almost certain that there would be no intentional slight to Smith, who, as the Oracle pointed out, has his girlfriend working directly for the McCaskill campaign, as well as his former Deputy Campaign Manager. Further much of his campaign crew, including his Campaign Manager, are working for the Coordinating Campaign, which is doing its part to help elect Claire McCaskill to the Senate. So, again, I would think this was an oversight.


You won't get strong leadership from a 3rd party candidate because once they get to Washington, they will either be entirely ineffectual as a lone wolf, or they will quickly join ranks with one of the major parties, as all independents have in the past. Your vote of protest is not only misplaced, but damaging to the nation as it will ensure that Jim Talent goes back to Washington to continue to be the lap dog of the President.

Anon (8/7@1:43):

Antonio is most certainly not a Republican, and I doubt he is on their payroll. I, too, am surprised he was allowed in a meeting for "elected officials" only, but he was, and those in the room, such as Jamilah Nasheed and Joe Pal, who are familiar with his site should have known that he would be reporting on the meeting. I wouldn't fault the out-of-towners, as they most likely had no idea who he was, but the locals surely did.

9/07/2006 7:43 AM

Anonymous said...

Travis: Do you think that the political guy for a u.s. senate race didn't recognize the guy who won one of the highest profile races in the area in August? If the political guy didn't recognize Jeff Smith, then that guy would qualify as one of the worst political guys in St. Louis. There has to be more to it. I've only seen Jeff Smith once in person but I recognized him from the things I got about him in the mail. You're reight -- he does look young!

9/07/2006 8:12 AM

Anonymous said...

People, people, people! I see a lot of player hating going on here. Remeber the PUB DEF creedo: "Don't hate the player, hate the game." If Brandon made a sincere, err, oversight, ok. But given Brandon's history of malfeasance I personally think Claire may not know about the incident, which would beg the Captain of the Ship theory--captain is responsible for the crew on the ship. Bottom Line: The politics of personal destruction serves no progressive purpose PERIOD! DEMS stop infighting for the love of everything holy. Vince Currao are you listening?

9/07/2006 8:18 AM

Anonymous said...

Maybe McCaskill hired all those Smith people only because she needed talented people and wanted them to work together with her. It doesn't say what she thinks of Smith, does it?

9/07/2006 8:34 AM

Anonymous said...

Ok, that last post made almost no sense. I am sure Claire's opinions of a lot of people/elected officials and vice versa should not be discussed lest it be detrimental to her.

9/07/2006 9:09 AM

Tim said...

Didn't Jeff work for Claire on her race for Governor after he lost his Congressional race?

9/07/2006 9:09 AM

Anonymous said...

You are correct and Jeff worked on the '04 coordinated as did I.

9/07/2006 9:15 AM

Anonymous said...

If you believe the Katrina disaster in New Orleans was a product of our mistreatment of the environment, then you should definitely not cast a protest vote. You should do everything you can to get Talent out of office. The League of Conservation Voters puts him on its list of "Dirty Dozen" Congressmen that consistently vote against environmental issues.

9/07/2006 12:53 PM

Anonymous said...

I find it odd that Jamilah Nasheed was allowed to stay and not Jeff Smith. I wonder what Brandon Davis has against Jeff.

9/07/2006 1:26 PM

Jeff Smith said...

This is Jeff Smith. I'm writing to ask any supporters of mine who read this blog to please recognize that there is a larger enemy to fight here. What happened the other night at the meeting was a minor misunderstanding that has nothing to do with Claire McCaskill's candidacy. What is important here is the fact that George Bush currently has a blank check to wreak havoc on the country, and taking back the Senate is one of the only ways to stop him. And we can't take back the Senate without electing Claire. So I'm asking readers who care about the larger cause to focus on what we can do in service of that cause. Go out and organize. Become a precinct captain. Knock on doors. Talk to friends and colleagues. Let's get this done. Contact me through my website by email if you want to help. JRS

9/07/2006 2:59 PM

Anonymous said...

Man, all of the coverage over Claire's comments from the local media, including Paul Harris, Charles Brennan and the Post-Dispatch, is deafening. Nice to see they are on top of things and wiling to publish information from both sides.

end sarcasm

9/07/2006 3:07 PM

Anonymous said...

AMEN SENATOR SMITH! Thank you for your pure professionalism. You are the standard from here on out. We will redouble our efforts to ensure Auditor McCaskill is sworn in in January with a similar title that you have earned.

9/07/2006 3:17 PM

Anonymous said...

oh i like what i'm hearing. talent by a length and half come november.

let's briefly recap.....race baiting by the candidate and it is not even october.......fear of inroads into the most consistently supportive constituancy (and most ignored after election night)....poor organization....

i'm loving it....from the right side!

9/07/2006 8:42 PM

Vicky said...

McCaskill is wrong. People who were responsible for poor black people being stranded on the roofs were the Mayor and Governor of Louisiana. Had Bush stepped in when the Governor said she didn't want his help, he would have been accused of being heavy handed with federal rule over states' rights. The Federal Government does not have the right to override the State's Governor. People, remember your civics!!

9/08/2006 8:54 AM

Antonio D. French said...

Governors nor mayors have at their disposal the most powerful military ever to walk the face of this planet.

In a time of national disaster, like a major city being destroyed, Americans look to the federal government for action. In fact, I think a federal agency was set up to specifically deal with managing largescale emergencies. Now what was the name of that organiz -- Oh, FEMA!

If it's going to be left soley up to the leadership and financial resources of Mayor Francis Slay and Gov. Matt Blunt to save St. Louis should it be all but destroyed and many of its citizens are left hungry and homeless, then God help us all.

And no, I don't believe that if thousands of middle-class white Americans were stranded without food and water it would take a week to get them what they needed.

I think those images alone would have prompted this President (who has no problem superceding local, state, and even Constitutional authority in any other case) would have reacted quicker and with a greater sense of urgency.

9/08/2006 9:49 AM

Doug Duckworth said...

Antonio, the Local Government cannot rely on the Federal Government for immediate response to natural disasters.

The people on the front line are the State and Local Governments. They should have hijacked some busses and gotten everyone out of the City when Nagin issued the evacuation order. Take school busses, tractor trailers, flat beds, anything that works.

"New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared a state of emergency Sunday and ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city."

"Nagin estimated that nearly 1 million people had fled the city and its surrounding parishes by Sunday night"

"Between 20,000 and 25,000 others who remained in the city lined up to take shelter in the Louisiana Superdome, lining up for what authorities warned would be an unpleasant day and a half at minimum."

"Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said that New Orleans could expect a complete loss of electricity and water services as well as intense flooding."

"We know we're going to have property damage," she told CNN's "Larry King Live." "We know we're going to have high wind damage. We're hoping we're not going to lose a lot of lives."

Nagin and Blanco should and could have gotten them out of the City. We cannot rely on the Federal Government. We shouldn't rely on the Federal Government for the first response. Do we expect the FBI to be the first on the scene when there is a shooting in St. Louis?

We cannot expect the Federal Government to preempt the Local Government as their jurisdiction is too large. Rather they should mandate unified natural disaster plans which the State and Local Government must impliment, while providing funding and advisory staff for disaster response plan formation.

9/08/2006 1:28 PM

I.B. Goins III said...

I appreciate Senator-Elect Jeff Smith's response and forethought in keeping the focus on what's important, and that's to bring victory home. Furthermore, I appreciate any objective, meaningful dialogue shared from other bloggers. I must also, speak on Claire's, political director, Brandon Davis, who has been unfairly made a target by those who have either a personal or political problem with the position that he has in the campaign hierarchy. Mr. Davis, has shown a level of professionalism, tact and political astuteness to this and other campaigns, that has become a refreshing sign of the next generation of public officials, and party stakeholders. He has shown an uncanny ability to work with the diverse political attitudes. I would hope that the party and others recognize his silent contributions and assets, and simply not target and attack another young, educated, aspiring African-American for no other reason, but......

Let's get the crabs out the barrel!

Intelligent responses welcomed.

9/08/2006 1:32 PM

Kevin Hayden said...

Bush fiddled while New Orleans drowned. Even if there were other government officials who erred, they were at least trying. Bush wasn't doing squat till the media showed floating bodies.

FEMA did a great job in numerous hurricanes, but AFTER 911, when it should have been strengthened, it was made weaker and weaker till it broke down completely and no Louisiana official caused that.

If you make less than five million dollars a year, face it: George Bush thinks your a restaurant server and The Man doesn't believe in tipping.

9/08/2006 1:59 PM

Nia said...

i.b. goines, III:

Hear! Hear! I've known Brandon Davis for quite some time now. He is exceptional at what he does.

In the words of Antonio French:
"Don't hate the playas; Hate the game!"

After all...Niaknows that Brandon is second to none at what he does!

9/08/2006 3:43 PM

Travis Reems said...

The following comments are made in general and not in specific to any individual(s):

What is the game that is supposed to be hated? Shouldn't the players be held accountable for playing a game that is so hated?

9/08/2006 3:47 PM

former employee said...

Nia and i.b.goins, you to have obviously never worked under the "guidence" of Brandon. I have worked for him and he takes credit for other peoples work and blames them for his mistakes. Typical management. He is a nice guy, but not a good leader.

9/08/2006 4:17 PM

Antonio D. French said...

Travis asked what "game" we are speaking of. in a word: politics.

9/08/2006 4:25 PM

Brian Harris said...

Nia is always working with shady people, I dont understand it!

9/08/2006 5:30 PM

Travis Reems said...

ADF, et al.:

If you don't like the game, change the rules and/or players (as often the rules are defined by the players).

9/08/2006 10:12 PM

Anonymous said...

Wow. A young, intelligent, African-American male that isn't afraid to boldly exercise his discretion and authority. Go, Brandon Davis! I'm impressed that Claire has a person of color on her staff that is actually allowed to publicly use his discretion. All to often, minorities are used as show pieces only to be seen and not heard. I'd like to hear much more of what Mr. Davis has to say. Thank you, Claire!

9/08/2006 11:45 PM

Da Rat Bastid said...

That's some fine reporting there. You should ask Joe Palm what he wore for Halloween in 9th grade!
The Jeff Smith snub is a load of crap. If you don't want a complete rebellion of progresives like Duckworth, then you need to FIRE Brandon Davis. The man is incompetent and a cheap hack to boot!
Yes, I've met him a couple of times. I supported Holden, and Holden's people failed him miserably.
And who was in charge of Holden's people? Brandon Davis!
I really don't understand why you'd even hire this guy! I mean, didn't you beat the tar out of his candidate in 2004? Why would you hire a loser like this?
Brandon represents the failed and outdated ways the Democratic Party relied on in 2000, 2002 and 2004.
The dude is dead weight.
And after you fire his ass, then nationalize your campaign. Your race is the key to control of the Senate. Start acting like that's the case.
Talent HAS to go. The man is a menace because of the whores he chooses to associate with; Bush, Defense contractors, Big Pharma, the Insurance lobby, (lobbyists in general) and agribusiness out to destroy the family farm and give us genetically modified foods via Monsanto.
C'mon Claire, let's keep that respect you earned from me for being tough. It's September. Time to take the gloves off. Having backstabbing trolls like Brandon on your staff work against you.
Let's "git 'er done"!!!

9/09/2006 8:08 PM

Anonymous said...

Rat Bastid,
AMEN!! Gov. and Mrs. Holden are decent people who were betrayed and damaged by the people who worked for them. Not all of their staffers, but MOST of them. From Brandon, to Vince, to Leigh, to you name it and these idiots keep getting recycled and weasling their way back into Dem campaigns. MEMO TO FUTURE DEM CANDIDATES: STOP HIRING THESE IDIOTS, THEY ARE A DISSERVICE TO THE PARTY, THEY KNOW NOTHING BUT HOW TO TEAR DOWN AND DESTROY WE DON'T NEED THEM IN THIS NEW AGE.

9/11/2006 1:01 PM

Anonymous said...

Good keep Jeff Smith out.

9/12/2006 12:24 AM

Bubba said...

Last anon, there you all go again, player hatin'. Nia, get these player haters in line my friend, you know how that happens.

9/12/2006 4:53 PM

Anonymous said...

So what do you guys have against Vince? You seem to forget how close 2000 was, and who put in the hard work.

9/25/2006 8:57 PM


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