By Antonio D. French
Filed Wednesday, September 06, 2006 at 7:15 PM
PUB DEF EXCLUSIVE
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!"