Check out the website:  Political Note #256 Nicole Galloway Missouri Governor, Political Note # 312 Jonathan Weinzapfel Indiana Attorney General, Political Note #231 Heather French Henry Kentucky Secretary of State

Political Note #317   Rich Finneran Missouri Attorney General

2020                            General election

Before I begin, I will remind you again about the Presidential race.  Some recent polls show trump gaining on Joe Biden. Others do not.  Michael Moore talks about how enthusiastic voters are for Trump; how lukewarm voters are for Biden.  He says persuade 100 people to vote for Biden.  Do that if you can.  Whether or not you can, give Joe Biden the resources to persuade voters to vote for him.  Do that at his website 

On July 22, the St. Louis Dispatch endorsed 36 year old Rich Finneran in the Democratic primary for Attorney General saying the following: “Missouri Democrats have an exceedingly tough road ahead trying to win back the statewide offices they lost in the Republican sweep of 2016. By letting down their guard, they helped install the GOP extremists who added Missouri to the list of other Republican states joining a federal lawsuit seeking to kill the Affordable Care Act. It’s time to give those extremists the boot in Jefferson City, and a good place to start is the attorney general’s office.”  Rich Finneran was the more experienced of the two young energetic Democrats running.

The editorial continued “Former Attorney General Josh Hawley [now US Senator Hawley] is the one who hitched Missouri’s wagon to the cynical, dangerous exercise in conservative extremism represented by the federal court battle over Obamacare. Hawley’s appointed successor, fellow Republican Eric Schmitt, has refused to reverse course.”

Consider Missouri. A border state with cities.  Its four longest borders are with Iowa in the north, Illinois in the east, Arkansas in the south, and Kansas in the west.  Missouri is moderately large with six million people.  Its two major cities are moderately large as well.  Kansas City, bordering Kansas City, Kansas has 500,000 people and a metropolitan area of 2.1 million.  St. Louis, bordering East St. Louis, Illinois has 300,000 people and a metropolitan area of 2.8 million.

Missouri was admitted to the United States as a slave state through the Missouri Compromise two hundred years ago.  Internally Missouri has not been big on compromise.  During the Civil War Missouri had a secessionist and a union government.

There was not much compromise during the progressive era either.  Missouri’s Democratic governor during the progressive era was “Holy Joe” Folk.  Elected in 1904, his was a moral crusade to root out corruption.  In addition to antitrust prosecutions, ending free railroad passes for state officials, extending bribery statutes, improving election laws to include the initiative and referendum, requiring formal registration for lobbyists, passing stricter employment and child labor laws, and regulating the railroads, he made racetrack gambling illegal, and enforced the Sunday-closing law.

Missouri’s Harry Truman, president at the end of WWII and after is now considered one of America’s great presidents.  He came out of Kansas City’s Prendergast political machine, a far cry from “Holy Joe” Folk’s progressive ideals.  Missouri’s great cities grew before World War II.  But after the war and throughout the second half of the 20th century, continuing to the present day, Kansas City stabilized and St. Louis declined while their suburbs grew.

Missouri’s demographics resemble the other border states in one important way.  The Black population is relatively small compared to southern states.  African Americans are about 12% of a state that has a White population of about 83%.  White dominance of Missouri’s Black population became particularly visible in 2014 after Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis.  In June, 2017, the NAACP warned African-American travelers, its first warning covering an entire state, that “people of color were disproportionately affected by stops, searches, and arrests,” noting that Black motorists were 85% more likely than Whites to be pulled over for traffic stops.

Rich Finneran would be a change for Missouri.  He is from St. Louis.  He was an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina, but returned to Missouri to get his law degree from Washington University.  As a former Assistant US Attorney, he brings law and order credentials.  In the US Attorney’s office, he focused on financial fraud, prosecuting a Ponzi scheme and an insurance scam.  His plan for Missouri is to “restore the integrity of the attorney general’s office” by withdrawing from the suit against ACA, by ending the implausible lawsuit against China for its responsibility for the coronavirus, and by combatting explicit and implicit bias throughout the state.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt does not mention his lawsuit against China or his lawsuit in opposition to the Affordable Car Act in his campaign website.  He promises, instead, to keep streets safe by cooperating with the US Attorney and to fight pharmaceutical companies regarding the opioid crisis.  He couches his promises in a patriotic paean of praise to the founding fathers for “their bold declaration of universal human dignity, where our rights come from and our form of government….”

What’s that, I wondered when I read it.  We don’t usually use the term “bold declaration of universal human dignity” to describe either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.  I expected something evangelical behind it, but found that Ronald Reagan used the phrase for the work of the Founding Fathers in 1986 at the rededication of the Statue of Liberty.

I remember that event. In particular, I remember one odd thing about it.  Reagan wanted Frank Sinatra to sing “The House I Live In” at the rededication.  To do that, he needed permission, which he received, from the trustees of the song’s composer – the two adopted sons of Abel Meeropol.   Abel Meeropol and his wife adopted the two boys in the 1950s after their parents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. were executed.

Help bring some balance to Missouri’s government.  Provide some of the financial support that Rich Finneran needs. The incumbent, Eric Schmitt, has raised just under a million dollars for the campaign.  Rich Finneran has raised a quarter of that amount.  Do what you can.

2020 Attorney General Races

Democratic incumbents

North Carolina          Incumbent Josh Stein v. County District Attorney Jim O’Neill

Oregon                       Incumbent Ellen Rosenblum v. Activist Michael Cross

Pennsylvania            Incumbent Josh Shapiro v Trial Lawyer Heather Heidelbaugh

Vermont                     Incumbent TJ Donovan v. former Democrat H. Brooke Paige

Washington               Incumbent Bob Ferguson v. Former Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and Business Developer Matt Larkin

Democratic challengers

Indiana                       Former Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel v former Member of Congress Todd Rokita for an Open Republican seat

Missouri                     Former Assistant US Attorney Rich Finneran v. Incumbent Eric Schmitt

Utah                            Former prosecutor and current defense attorney Greg Skorda v Incumbent Sean Reyes

West Virginia            Labor Lawyer Sam Petsonk v Incumbent Patrick Morrisey