Fightin’-Dem Blues

Missouri Democrats worried after redistricting brings candidates head to head

| News Editor

Missouri Democrats are troubled by the prospect of a primary race between Reps. Russ Carnahan and William Lacy Clay over the U.S. House of Representatives seat for Missouri’s first congressional district.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan signed up on the first day of candidate filing to run against fellow Democrat U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay in a new merged congressional district that covers all of St. Louis. Clay has been a representative of the first district for 11 years.

Carnahan currently represents the third district. The district is set to be eliminated in 2013 due to Congressional redistricting based on the 2010 census.

College Democrats are currently unable to endorse one candidate over the other due to the Missouri Democratic Party’s ethics policy.

“We are not allowed to endorse one candidate or the other before the primary,” sophomore Leigha Empson, president of College Democrats, said. “That being said, it is unfortunate that two strong candidates have to go against each other like this, because the Democrats in Missouri already have scarce resources, and pitting two strong candidates against each other really drains those resources quickly.”

However, Empson believes there is still a chance that Carnahan won’t run against Clay for the sake of saving the monetary resources.

“They have until the end of March to declare where they are running, and some people have speculated that Carnahan would run in a different district since he is known throughout the state,” she said.

As both the Clay and Carnahan families have been prominent in St. Louis politics for many decades, the potential face-off could be detrimental for the Missouri Democratic Party.

If both candidates decide to run in the primary, the election is scheduled to occur in August.

“This summer is going to be brutal…It’s going to be a clash of two political dynasties in the state,” junior Peter Birke, staff editor of the Washington University Political Review, said. “This should be a fun summer. I think that Clay would probably pull out actually, if [Carnahan] wins the primary.”

Nonetheless, there is a possibility that the primary might not happen at all.

“There are two things happening: The filing is still open, which means others could still file, and also there’s a pending case in the Missouri Supreme Court which involves a challenge to the congressional redistricting map, which may or may not change Carnahan’s district,” Steven Engelhardt, communications director for the Clay campaign, said.

Opponents of the Republican-created redistricting have filed a suit in the state Supreme Court, which could order legislators to rewrite the boundaries once again.

“We don’t know [when the case will be decided]. It was expected earlier this month, but they have their own schedule,” Engelhardt said.

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