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Talent Tries to Erase Debt

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 10:51 PM

Former U.S. Senator Jim Talent has sent an email to supporters reflecting on his loss and requesting financial aid in erasing his $85,000 of campaign debt.

"I've replayed the campaign more than a couple of times," Talent writes. "There were a few things I would have done differently, but they weren't many and they weren't major."

"I'm secure in my knowledge that we did everything we could to win. It was a great campaign. It just was not a great year," said Talent.

Talent requests donations from his supporter to go towards his campaign's debt.

"We can legally accept contributions earmarked to our debt as long as the individual has not already contributed the legal maximum of $2100 to our general election campaign," said Talent. He refers questions to his former National Finance Director, Steve Gordon, who he says remains his consultant.

In his email, Talent also says he has accepted an invitation to become a Distinguished Fellow at the conservative Washington DC think tank, the Heritage Institute.

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Political Briefs

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, November 15, 2006 at 10:47 AM

SHE SAID WHAT? -- Following the our city's dubious distinction once again as the "Most Dangerous City in America", comes an interesting quote from one of St. Louis' paid cheerleaders.

Mary Hendrod, of the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, was quoted in Venues Today, an industry trade magazine, in their "Quote of the Week" section.

"It's a bad part of town, but every city has a bad part of town... Frankly the only reason anyone would go there would be to purchase crack cocaine," she said, reportedly referring to "a bad neighborhood of St. Louis."

Hendrod told PUB DEF this morning that the quote was taken out of context and was meant to be off the record.

AND THEN THERE WERE THREE -- Looks like Tower Grove Easter Christian Saller is joining Kacie Starr Triplett and Committeeman Patrick Cacchione in the race to succeed 6th Ward Alderman (and Aldermanic Presidential candidate) Lewis Reed. The Arch City Chronicle reports Saller, 43, made the announcement at a southside neighborhood meeting last night. We're also hearing there will be even more candidates joining the race before it's all over. Expect a crowded field.

FAIR-WEATHER FRIENDS? -- We emailed outgoing Republican State Rep. Sherman Parker this week to ask if we should read anything into his presence at Claire McCaskill's victory party last week. He did not reply.

But two other African-American Republicans called us over the weekend to let us know what they thought about former Congressional candidates Parker and Leslie Farr (who recently said he was re-joining the Democratic Party) partying with the blue team while the reds shed tears into their champagne glasses last Tuesday.

"Traitors" is about the least offensive word used that we can write here.

"After all Jim [Talent] did for Sherman?" one said, referring to Talent's early endorsement in the contentious 2002 primary fight that eventually led to Parker becoming the first African-American elected to the state legislature from St. Charles.

"They should know the lines are too long for them to ever get anything out of the Democrats," said the GOPer.

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McCaskill's Northside Promises

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, November 10, 2006 at 8:57 AM

PUB DEF EXCLUSIVE

Two days before Election Day, then-U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill met with a small group of black elected officials representing an area of north St. Louis City and was asked to make some very specific promises.

First Ward Alderman Charles Q. Troupe, State Rep. Yaphett El-Amin and her husband State Rep.-elect Talibdin El-Amin presented to the ultimately victorious Democratic senate candidate a proposal that included these commitments to north St. Louis:
  • Secure at least 60% of funding for the expansion of Metrolink to north St. Louis
  • Secure $10 million in low to moderate income housing funds
  • Secure $5 million in HIV/AIDS outreach funds
  • Secure $20 million for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) for the uninsured and under-insured in north St. Louis
  • Secure $10 million to repair Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. and other major northside streets
  • Secure $5 million for employment training and assistance
  • Advocate local control of the St. Louis police department
  • Advocate diversity in state, county and local offices
  • Open a Senate office in north St. Louis
According to the three northside representatives, McCaskill agreed to these commitments, which represent hundreds of millions of dollars for an area that has long gone without its fair share of the pie of public dollars.

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VIDEO: The Talent Party

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, November 08, 2006 at 10:07 AM

PUB DEF had a special correspondent of sorts at the Talent campaign's watch party last night. The always dapper Jamie Allman, co-host of "Allman & Smash in the Morning" on 97.1 FM Talk and a former reporter for Channel 4 News, gave us a special report and early Election Night analysis.

Let's just say it was informative and entertaining...

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VIDEO: McCaskill Victory Speech

By Antonio D. French

Claire McCaskill, the new U.S. Senator from Missouri, thanked a roomful of ecstatic supporters, volunteers, campaign workers, and elected Democrats in the Majestic Ballroom of the Renaissance Grand Hotel tonight.

"The great state of Missouri has spoken," said McCaskill. "They have said 'we want change'!"



"Missourians have rejected the politics of personal character attacks," said McCaskill as she reached over and kissed her husband, Joseph Shepard, who had been the target of several negative TV commercials.

McCaskill also thanked her mother, Betty Anne McCaskill, who she called the "star" of the campaign.

To the nearly half of Tuesday's voters that did not voter for her, McCaskill said she "will work hard to earn your trust and respect."

McCaskill will join at least three other new Democrats in the U.S. Senate. With the Senate race in Virginia likely taking several days to determine a winner, the balance of power is still in doubt.

What is not in doubt is that the Democratic Party had a very good night on Nov. 7, 2006 -- one that has changed the nation's political landscape and reintroduced two-party government to Washington D.C.

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McCaskill Declares Victory!

By Antonio D. French

Claire McCaskill has declared victory in her race for U.S. Senate.

Check back for video...

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Talent Leading

By Antonio D. French

With 71% of the vote in, Sen. Jim Talent is leading challenger Claire McCaskill 50% to 47%.

The Democrats have already won control of the House of Representatives. With the balance of power in the U.S. Senate at stake, the eyes of the country are on Missouri...

Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

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VIDEO: A Blue Army is Coming

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, November 07, 2006 at 11:15 AM

PUB DEF EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Hundreds of people were standing in line this morning at the corner of West Florissant and Jennings Station Road in north St. Louis waiting to help flush out voters for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill.



There is some confusion among the potential workers in line just what they will be doing and how much they will be paid.

Some people near the back of the line think they are going to be paid between $300 and $250 for the day, while others closer to the front think the pay is around $9 per hour.

Some said they thought think they'll be working a poll. Others said they thought they would be going door-to-door. But all seemed to be clear on one thing: that they would be voting for the Democrat, Claire McCaskill, today.

Stay with PUBDEF.NET today for hourly updates.

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VIDEO: Talent, Bond Rally Supporters

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, November 06, 2006 at 12:43 PM

Senators Jim Talent and Kit Bond rallied a roomful of volunteers and supporters at the Drury Inn in St. Louis County this morning, just 24 hours before Tuesday's election to decide if Bond will be joined in the Senate again by Talent or Democrat Claire McCaskill.



UPDATE: Bond reminded his fellow Republicans of his first Senate win 20 years ago. "That was the election in the 6th year of President Reagan's term," similar to this election, he said. "It's tough on Republicans in the 6th year of a Republican president's term."

"That was the year that seven incumbent Republican senators were knocked off," said Bond. "Right before the election, I was beind in the polls three percent and I had a knot in my stomach the size of a softball."

He said he won that race "not because I was so good looking or so smart" but because of the GOTV efforts of his party.



Also... Supporters of Senator Talent will be gathering on Election Night at the Frontenac Hilton, 1335 South Lindbergh Blvd.

UPDATE 2: Click here to see video of Claire McCaskill rallying her troops with Congressmen Lacy Clay and Russ Carnahan Saturday in north St. Louis. And click here to see video of Sen. Barack Obama stumping for her on Sunday.

And as we reported last week, McCaskill supporters will be gathering on Election Night on the eastern side of the state in downtown St. Louis and on the western side of the state in downtown Kansas City.

In St. Louis, in the Majestic Ballroom of the Renaissance Grand Hotel, 800 Washington Ave. In K.C., in the Count Basie Ballroom of the Downtown Marriott, 200 W. 12th Street.

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VIDEO: Obama Stumps for McCaskill

By Antonio D. French

"The American people are not as divided as their politics would indicate," Senator Barack Obama told a packed house of Claire McCaskill supporters in St. Louis yesterday.

Obama, who has been jetting across the country to lend some of his popularity to Democrats in close races, spoke yesterday at the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park to more than 1,000 people who hope that come Wednesday morning, the Democrats will have taken control of the U.S. Senate and House.



For there to be a change of power in the Senate tomorrow, Democrats will have to pick up six seats. In the House, the number is 15.

Thanks to Tightasstrix for the video.

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Talent crisscrossing the State

By Antonio D. French

Filed Sunday, November 05, 2006 at 10:37 AM

After rallies with President Bush Friday in Springfield and Joplin, which the campaign estimates were attended by 11,000 people collectively, Sen. Jim Talent continued his trek across Missouri with stops in Perryville, Kennett and West Plains for "Farm and Ranch" rallies with Missouri Farm Bureau President Charlie Kruse.

Yesterday he began his 11-city "Missouri Values Tour" which will feature get-out-the-vote rallies in Jefferson City, St. Joseph, Kirksville, Hannibal, Poplar Bluff, Cape Girardeau, Rolla, St. Louis, Columbia, Kansas City and Springfield.

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More on McCaskill's All-Nighter

By Antonio D. French

We reported yesterday that Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill pulled an "all-nighter" Friday and Saturday, campaigning 24-hours straight, hitting diners, firehouses and factories talking to voters working the late shift. Here's more from the AP:

"It's the last person you expect to see at Waffle House at 3 a.m.," said Tim Yazawa, 24, who was grabbing a middle-of-the-night snack with a friend...

...McCaskill's stops before midnight Friday included police stations, fire stations and the night shift change at an auto plant. In the wee hours of Saturday morning, her big blue recreational vehicle rolled to all-night diners, where patrons were often stunned to see the Senate candidate amid the burgers and shakes.

It was constant motion as McCaskill hopped on and off her RV, spending 10 to 45 minutes at each stop. Nursing a raspy voice with cough drops and hot tea, McCaskill said it was her idea to target people who work the night shift, though at many stops she was greeted by just a handful of police officers, waitresses or emergency workers.

"It may seem like we're not doing much, but these guys talk to so many people, it's the kind of thing that gets out," she said after stopping at a St. Louis police substation. "I'm trying to let people know the folks who work when the sun goes down do some of the most important work out there."

The McCaskill campaign will hold a rally at 4:00 today in Forest Park at the World's Fair Pavilion. The very popular Sen. Barack Obama will be there hoping to rally the Democratic base to come out strong for McCaskill.

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Clay, Carnahan Welcome McCaskill

By Antonio D. French

Filed Saturday, November 04, 2006 at 6:52 PM

Claire McCaskill rolled her blue campaign RV to north St. Louis today capping off nearly 24 hours of straight campaigning.

The Democratic U.S. Senate candidate stopped by an event hosted by St. Louis Congressmen Lacy Clay and Russ Carnahan at the Gateway Classic Building near downtown. She said she had campaigned through the night, stopping at all-night diners, firehouses and factories talking to workers on the night shift.

"I listened and realized how much we have to do to make sure they have health care, that they have a living wage, that they have an opportunity to send their kids to college, that they have the opportunity to live the American dream," said McCaskill.



Several other elected officials were in attendance, including Comptroller Darlene Green, License Collector Gregg Daly, State Reps. Rodney Hubbard, Robin Wright Jones, Maria Chappelle-Nadal, Jamilah Nasheed, and Talibdin El-Amin, Aldermen Greg Carter and Jeffrey Boyd, former Ald. Irv Clay, Committeeman Joe Palm, and surely others that we didn't spot.

Mike Jones, aide to County Executive Charlie Dooley, spoke on behalf of his boss. And Gateway Classic founder Earl Wilson played host to the nearly 80 people in attendance.

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McCaskill E-Day Parties in STL and KC

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, November 03, 2006 at 12:49 PM

Supporters of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill will be gathering on Election Night on the eastern side of the state in downtown St. Louis and on the western side of the state in downtown Kansas City.

In St. Louis, in the Majestic Ballroom of the Renaissance Grand Hotel, 800 Washington Ave. In K.C., in the Count Basie Ballroom of the Downtown Marriott, 200 W. 12th Street.

Related Story:

Obama to Stump for McCaskill Again

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Talent Gets $30K from UniGroup Execs

By Antonio D. French

A report by the blog ePluribus Media outlines over $30,000 in campaign contributions from executives and political action committees related to UniGroup, Inc., a Fenton-based firm that owns some of the nation's largest moving companies and which has millions of dollars in federal contracts.

According to campaign finance reports, Richard McClure, the firm's CEO and the former chief of staff for then-Missouri Gov. John Ashcroft, has given $4,000 to Talent's Senate campaign. His wife, Sharon, gave another $2,000.

What's wrong with that? Well, according to ePluribus, the Senate Ethics Manual bars contributions from federal government contractors. Not exactly.

While the rules fordid contractors like UniGroup, Inc. from giving to candidates, its employees and executives are free to give as much money as is legally allowed for anyone else.

Now whether it's ethical for politicians to accept campaign contributions from people whose employers are affected by legislation overseen by those legislators is another deal altogether.

But if that was outlawed, who would fund all the citywide campaigns in St. Louis?

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Obama to Stump for McCaskill Again

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, November 01, 2006 at 11:27 AM

The very popular Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) will be in St. Louis again this weekend to support fellow Democrat Claire McCaskill in her very tight campaign against incumbent Sen. Jim Talent.

There will be a public rally at the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. Tickets can be requested from McCaskill's website.

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CNN Poll: Senate Race Tied

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 2:48 PM

Exactly one week before Election Day, a new CNN poll shows the race between Republican Jim Talent and Democrat Claire McCaskill tied.

Of 565 Likely Voters:
Jim Talent - 49%
Claire McCaskill - 49%

(Sampling Error: +/- 4%)

Of the larger pool of 1,004 registered voters, McCaskill led with 51% to Talent's 43%. Click here to download the PDF of the 3-page report from CNN's polls of Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia voters.

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Bush to Stump for Talent

By Antonio D. French

The Associated Press is reporting that President George W. Bush will be coming to Missouri on Friday to stump for Sen. Jim Talent. Details are still not available, but such a public event would mark a shift from a perceived distancing from the president by the Talent campaign.



More details as they become available...

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Who's Reaching Black Voters?

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, October 30, 2006 at 7:58 AM

St. Louis Congressman Lacy Clay recently suggested Republican Sen. Jim Talent may be doing a better job than his Democratic challenger, Claire McCaskill, of addressing African-American campaign issues.

From a story in Sunday's U.S. News & World Report:

But some Democratic candidates are facing their own base motivation problems, with recent polls showing lower-than-normal black support for Democratic Senate candidates like Missouri's McCaskill, who wasn't cracking 50 percent black support in a poll earlier this month. Other polls show African-Americans more likely than whites to doubt that their votes will be counted because of voting controversies in recent years.

"I hear Talent really trying to address some issues near and dear to the African community," says St. Louis Rep.
William Lacy Clay, a Democrat. "I don't hear the same drumbeat from the McCaskill camp."

While acknowledging McCaskill's ties to the black community, St. Louis NAACP Vice President Claude Brown says Talent "has done a tremendous job recruiting African-Americans." But, he adds, "people are really angry. If nothing else gets African-Americans to the polls, it's anger." If that's still not enough, perhaps a call from one of the two parties will do the trick.

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VIDEO: Michael J. Fox on Limbaugh

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, October 27, 2006 at 3:47 PM

Actor Michael J. Fox, whose commercial for U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill has been the subject of much discussion the past few days, discussed with Katie Couric the recent allegations made by radio host Rush Limbaugh and his ongoing battle with Parkinson's disease.

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"Pony Up": Groups Call on Safe Dems to Put their Money Where their Mouths Are

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, October 25, 2006 at 1:21 PM

Two liberal websites are asking their readers to demand their Democratic members of Congress who are all but assured re-election to give some of their campaign money to Democrats in close contests.

MoveOn.org and MyDD.com have identified several dozen "safe" Democrats, including St. Louis Congressman Russ Carnahan, and given their readers specific instructions on how to pressure them to help their fellow Democrats in more competitive races.

One such Democrat in need is U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill who is in a very close contest with incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Talent. Back in August, PUB DEF's camera caught Carnahan using some strong language in telling a group of Dems that Talent needed to be defeated.



"There's a long list of reasons to fire his ass!," he said standing on a chair while rallying the crowd to support McCaskill.

It appears some Dems are still waiting for Carnahan to put his money where his mouth is.

We are expecting a response from Carnahan's campaign shortly. Check back soon.

UPDATE: Representatives of Congressman Carnahan say he has given nearly a quarter million dollars to fellow Democrats through the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and direct contributions since taking office in January 2005.

The campaign sent over the following numbers:

Contributed to DCCC= $100,000
Raised for DCCC= $52,000
Contributions to DCCC targeted races= $12,600
Pending Contributions to DCCC targeted races= $15,500
Raised for other Democratic members of Missouri delegation= $65,000
Grand Total = $245,100

It's not clear from the information provided when those contributions were made or whether MoveOn.org's target number for Carnahan of $60,831 (roughly 30% of his war chest as of 9/30) was met during this campaign cycle.

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Fox/McCaskill Stem Cell Ad Response

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, October 24, 2006 at 5:54 PM

Opponents of Amendment 2 have put together a quick response to U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill's powerful television ad featuring actor Michael J. Fox in support of the Stem Cell Initiative.

The Anti-Stem Cell ad features a handful of celebrities including former Rams quarterback Kurt Warner, Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan, and actors Patricia Heaton ("Everybody Loves Raymond") and Jim Caviezel ("The Passion of the Christ").



The ad was paid for by the Life Communications Fund. It appears to have been put together quickly, at times seemingly shot with a consumer camcorder. It is not clear if it is being considered for television at this time or if another version will be shot.

UPDATE: According to the Drudge Report, this ad will air tomorrow during Game 4 of the World Series.

UPDATE 2: This video from a Chicago TV station and this story in USA Today outlines some of the controversy stemming (no pun intended) from Michael J. Fox's ad and comments made in response by conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

Related Stories:

New Ad Hits Talent on Stem Cell

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Malcolm raising "Moolah" for McCaskill

By Antonio D. French

With just two weeks left before Election Day, the McCaskill campaign will be looking to raise some last-minute moolah at the Moolah tonight.

Ellen R. Malcolm, the founder and president of EMILY's List, a political action committee that supports pro-choice female candidates, will be the special guest at a fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill tonight at the Moolah Theatre and Lounge, 3821 Lindell Blvd, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Other guests scheduled to stop by include former Senator Jean Carnahan, former Congressman Richard Gephardt, and St. Louis County Executuve Charlie Dooley.

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Ad Hits Talent as "Rubber Stamp"

By Antonio D. French

Filed Sunday, October 22, 2006 at 11:21 PM

Folks watching Game 2 of the World Series tonight might have seen this new ad from U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill attacking incumbent Sen. Jim Talent for his record of voting with Pres. George W. Bush.



The 30-second ad highlights Talent's record of voting 94% of the time in support of the President's agenda, according to Congressional Quarterly.

Earlier this month, during their "Meet the Press" debate, host Tim Russert asked Talent, "Why shouldn’t voters in Missouri say 'Jim Talent is a rubber stamp for George W. Bush. If I disagree with George W. Bush, goodbye, Talent'?"

"Why don't they ever say in those surveys that the president agreed with me a certain percentage of the time?," joked Talent. "I mean, I’ve been in public life a lot longer when he has. When I went into Congress, I think he was still running the Texas Rangers."

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New Ad Hits Talent on Stem Cell

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, October 20, 2006 at 5:28 PM

A new ad featuring actor Michael J. Fox will soon be hitting televisions across the state. The ad, paid for by U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, again links the upcoming Stem Cell initiative to the heated campaign for U.S. Senate.

"Unfortunately Sen. Jim Talent opposes expanding Stem Cell research," says Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease. "Sen. Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us a chance for hope."



In February, Talent withdrew his support for a bill he co-sponsored to ban all forms of human cloning (including embryonic therapeutic cloning techniques that are seen as crucial to stem cell research), angering many of his pro-life supporters.

Talent has said he personally opposes the current embryonic stem cell ballot initiative, instead favoring research involving adult stem cells.

UPDATE: This video from a Chicago TV station and this story in USA Today outlines some of the controversy stemming (no pun intended) from Michael J. Fox's ad and comments made in response by conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

Related Story:

Fox/McCaskill Stem Cell Ad Response

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Zogby: Still Too Close to Call

By Antonio D. French

According to the most recent poll by Zogby International, Republican Sen. Jim Talent has regained some ground on his Democratic challenger, State Auditor Claire McCaskill.

In the latest poll, conducted Oct. 10 through 16 and released yesterday, 50% of likely Missouri voters support Talent. While 47% support McCaskill. That puts the race back within the poll's margin of error (3.1%).

Zogby's Sept. 5 poll showed Talent with 48% and McCaskill at 43%. On Sept. 25, Talent fell one point to 47% and McCaskill jumped to 45%. Libertarian Frank Gilmour has stayed around 2-3%. While Progressive Lydia Lewis hasn't even registered on the survey.

Related Stories:

POLL: McCaskill 51%, Talent 42%
Margin of Error

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VIDEO: Veteran Group Targets Talent

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 2:57 PM

A group of Iraq war veterans have launched an ad campaign against several vulnerable Republicans, including Sen. Jim Talent.

VoteVets.org PAC's ad features Peter Granato, an Army Reservist who reportedly served in Iraq in 2003. In the ad, Granato fires an AK-47 into the type of vest many U.S. troops are wearing in Iraq. Bullets clearly pierce right through the flak jacket. Granato then shoots modern body armor, which stops the bullets.

Granato then points out that Talent voted against an amendment in 2003 to add $1 billion to the budget of the National Guard and Reserves for procurement of such equipment. The ad also says Talent later voted against another amendment which would have appropriated more than $300 million for body armor.

Almost identical ads are being ran against Republican Senators George Allen in Virginia, Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, and Conrad Burns in Montana.



UPDATE: Rich Chrismer, a spokesman for the Talent campaign, sent over this response:

"Senator Talent has been endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Vietnam Veterans of America gave him the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Association for Service Disabled Veterans gave him their 2006 Patriot Legislator Award. These veteran groups don't endorse or give awards to people who don't support veterans."

The McCaskill campaign has not replied to our requests for comment on this (or any other) story.

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USA Today: Dems Using Min. Wage Issue

By Antonio D. French

From yesterday's USA Today:

Democratic challengers in more than two-dozen House and Senate races are attacking Republicans in Congress for taking pay raises while voting against a minimum wage increase...

In Missouri, challenger Claire McCaskill says in a TV ad that Sen. Jim Talent is the kind of person who "votes 11 times against increasing the minimum wage, but takes six congressional pay raises."

Rich Chrismer, Talent's spokesman, says the senator has "consistently voted against" pay raises and gives "the ones that pass the Congress to charity."

Click here to read the full story.

Related stories:

Exclusive: ACORN Workers Claim Illegal Activities
ACORN Under Fire
Exclusive: Workers Remain Unpaid, Make More Allegations

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KC Star/Roll Call: Senator McCaskill Would Be Among Nation's Wealthiest

By Antonio D. French

A story in today's Kansas City Star examines how some of U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill's husband's business dealings would create "several potential conflicts of interest" should McCaskill successfully unseat Sen. Jim Talent. Click here to read it.

In the story is an interesting bit that many may not realize. These guys are rich -- really rich.

From the Star: A disclosure report filed with the Senate this year puts McCaskill’s net worth at between $13 million and $30 million, possibly more. Even the low end of that scale would make her one of the Senate’s 10 richest members, according to estimates by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

Republicans have been trying to turn "Mr. McCaskill", businessman Joseph Shepard, into an issue in the final weeks of this campaign, repeatedly demanding Shepard release his tax returns to the media.

"[Jim and Brenda Talent] recognize when you serve in public office you forfeit a certain amount of privacy when it comes to financial information," said Rich Chrismer, a Talent spokesman, in a press release sent out this morning.

According to the Star, the Talents reported a net worth last year of between $300,000 and $1.3 million.

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Final Senate Debate Tonight

By Antonio D. French

Sen. Jim Talent and State Auditor Claire McCaskill will meet tonight in Kansas City for their fifth and final debate before the Nov. 7 election. But St. Louis voters may not see it at all.

The debate will take place at the University Academy charter school and will be moderated by KMBC-TV's Larry Moore. The panelists are KMBC-TV’s political reporter Michael Mahoney, Kansas City Star political reporter Steve Kraske, KCPT-TV public affairs and the news programming director Nick Haines, KCUR-FM news director Frank Morris and Examiner Independence editorial board editor Jeff Fox.

The debate will not be televised live in St. Louis, in Kansas City, or anywhere else. Instead, according to Brad Belote at The KY3 blog, the debate will air tomorrow night in K.C. on both KMBC and KCPT. Tonight, KMBC viewers will be treated to "Dancing with the Stars" instead.

St. Louisan may be able to stream video of the debate from one the television station's websites tomorrow. Maybe.

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Political Briefs

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, October 17, 2006 at 11:55 AM

THE POST NEEDS ADS -- For the second day in a row, the Post-Dispatch ran a full-page ad pleading with political campaigns to advertise in its pages. "Attention Candidates: We can help you win the vote," read Tuesday's ad on page A7.


TAX RETURNS RETURN -- The GOP continues to try to make Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill's husband an issue in her campaign.

The Missouri Republican Party issued a press release this morning blasting McCaskill and her husband, Joseph Shepard, for refusing to release his tax returns to the media.

"With a family fortune of between $13 million and $30 million amassed through taxpayer-financed tax credits, hundreds of government subsidized real estate partnerships and an offshore tax shelter in Bermuda, McCaskill and Shepard for months have arrogantly refused to release their tax returns even though Sen. Jim Talent and his wife Brenda released theirs long ago," Republicans said in the press release.

On KWMU's "St. Louis on the Air" this morning, McCaskill said they have released more than enough information on their personal finances and that her husband's "complicated" tax returns would just be used to further distract from the important issues of the campaign.

CRACKING OPEN THE PIGGEE BANK -- A telling sign of the trouble Missouri Republicans find themselves in is this little bit from Steve Kraske of the Kansas City Star:

"Sen. Kit Bond, a Missouri Republican who has stashed $2.8 million in his political action committee, is spending it. The biggest recipient: Jim Talent, with $450,000."

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Tonight's Debate

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, October 16, 2006 at 11:59 PM

The fourth of five debates between Sen. Jim Talent and State Auditor Claire McCaskill is over. Your thoughts?

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4th Senate Debate Tonight

By Antonio D. French

Senator Jim Talent and State Auditor Claire McCaskill will meet tonight for their fourth of five scheduled debates.

This time the candidates and their supporters with gather in Springfield to participate in the debate sponsored by KYTV, Ozarks Public Television, KSMU, and the Springfield News-Leader.

The debate will be moderated by KY3 News Anchor Jerry Jacob and the panel will include KY3 Political Reporter Dave Catanese, News-Leader Editorial Board Editor Tony Messenger, and KSMU Senior Governmental Affairs Reporter Missy Shelton.

UPDATE: The debate can be watched live on C-SPAN.

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McCaskill tells Newsweek that Pub Def's Quote Taken "Out of Context"

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, October 13, 2006 at 6:39 PM

In an interview with Newsweek.com published today, U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill claims a quote first reported by PUB DEF was taken out of context.

Newsweek: You took a lot of flak for your comments about President Bush and Hurricane Katrina. You said: “George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black.” Correct me if I’m wrong but I haven’t seen any retraction. Could you just explain what you meant?

McCaskill: The quote was taken out of context. What I was doing was acknowledging how many people in America felt. And the reason those feelings were so prominent after Katrina was because of the way this administration has treated the most vulnerable in this country. I think that is something we need to get to work on. I think acknowledging that a lot of people felt that way is an important part of fixing the problem.

Newsweek: Do you think race played a significant role in the federal government’s response to Katrina?

McCaskill: I certainly do not think that President Bush is a racist. Obviously, I do not think that. I do think, however, that gross incompetence led to tragic results because the people in New Orleans did not have the resources to help themselves. Part of the reason they were so vulnerable is a direct result of the policies of this administration.

Here again is the context in which that comment was made.

On Tuesday, September 5, Committeewoman Norma Leggette (4th Ward) told McCaskill at a meeting of St. Louis City Democratic elected officials -- both African-American and white -- 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.

Leggette has since confirmed to Post-Dispatch columnist Sylvester Brown that her quotes were indeed accurate.

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."

Click here to read Newsweek reporter Lee Hudson Teslik's full interview with McCaskill and her opponent, Sen. Jim Talent.

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POLL: McCaskill 51%, Talent 42%

By Antonio D. French

Just a week ago, we said we hadn't been reporting on the polls since they all said the same thing -- the senate race was too close to call. Well that may be changing.

A poll conducted by SurveyUSA and released Thursday shows 51% of likely voters choosing Democrat Claire McCaskill over the Republican incumbent, Sen. Jim Talent, if the election was held today. Only 42% of the 497 respondents said they would vote for Talent. The margin of error was +/-4.5%.

McCaskill's 9 point lead represents a significant change from the dead heat the two campaigns were in before Wednesday's debate. Since a similar SurveyUSA poll four weeks ago, McCaskill has gained 3 points and Talent has lost 5 points.

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VIDEO: McCaskill Calls Attacks "Sad"

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, October 12, 2006 at 11:15 AM

The debate before yesterday's debate centered around a television ad that was being run by U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill's campaign and featuring a young veteran telling how difficult it was for him to receive medical care after he returned home from Iraq.



The "Josh" ad, as it has become known, featured Kansas City native Josh Lansdale, a former medic that was wounded while serving in Iraq. The ad was pulled from the air after Landale's story could not be verified by a Kansas City television station.

"This isn't about the veteran, it's about the credibility of Claire McCaskill's television ads," said Jim Talent's Senior Advisor Lloyd Smith. "McCaskill can not prove the ad is true. McCaskill can settle this right now by providing the media with the veteran's appointment schedule as verified by the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Kansas City."

"I think it's a really sad moment," McCaskill said on the matter last night. "Sen. Talent has sent men and women to die for us over there. And they've been injured. They don't mind going to fight for us, but I don't think they expected to be attacked when they get home."

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VIDEO: Post-Debate News Conference

By Antonio D. French

Following their third debate, Sen. Jim Talent and State Auditor Claire McCaskill separately spoke to the media to clarify some of their earlier answers and continue the attack on their opponent's record.



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Tonight's Debate

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, October 11, 2006 at 10:40 PM

The third of five debates between Sen. Jim Talent and State Auditor Claire McCaskill is over. We'll post some video tomorrow from the post-debate press conference. In the meantime, feel free to offer your own assessments of the candidates' performances in the comments section of this post.

By the way, if you missed the debate it will be broadcast again at 3:30 a.m. on Channel 5. So set those Tivos and VCRs.

UPDATE: A KSDK poll conducted by Survey USA showed 54% of St. Louis area viewers thought McCaskill won tonight's debate. Only 32% thought Talent won and 14% thought there was no clear winner. The poll reportedly had 572 respondents with a margin of error of 4.2%.

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Senate Debate Tonight in Clayton

By Antonio D. French

U.S. Senator Jim Talent and his Democratic challenger, State Auditor Claire McCaskill, will meet tonight for their third debate.

The debate will be at 8:00 p.m. at Clayton High School. It is hosted by the Clayton Chamber of Commerce and will be broadcast live on KSDK Channel 5 and KWMU 90.7 FM.

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VIDEO: McCaskill Visits Senior Center

By Antonio D. French

U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill visited a northside senior center tonight to talk health care.

The Democrat was joined by Comptroller Darlene Green and soon-to-be State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, who hosted the event at the Homer G. Phillips Senior Living Community in the Ville neighborhood.



Several dozen elderly African-American men and women listened as McCaskill talked about the shortcomings of the Medicare Part D program, the voting record of her opponent, Sen. Jim Talent, and the overall state of healthcare in America.

UPDATE: This video had been reposted on several conservative websites claiming it shows some kind of fraudulent behavior relating to an absentee ballot. That allegation was not made in the video, in our story that accompanied the video, or by any person in the room at the time the video was shot. Simply, that is not what happened.

For that reason, we've disabled the embedding feature on YouTube, meaning it can no longer be reposted on other sites. You can now only see this video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cida3VwmCG0

In recent days, these campaigns have been doing more than their fair share of mudslinging. We ask that both sides refrain from trying to turn our reports into more mud.

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McCaskill and Mother on Lizz Brown

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, October 09, 2006 at 7:56 AM

U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill again appeared on WGNU's "The Wake-Up Call with Lizz Brown" this morning. In the weeks leading up to the election, the State Auditor has paid for a one hour block of time each Monday on the AM talk show. Calling in from the road, she talked about her nationally televised debate yesterday with her opponent, incumbent Sen. Jim Talent.

McCaskill's mother, Betty Anne, also appeared on today's show. She said as a mother it is hard to watch the negative campaigns, some of which effectively call her daughter a liar and a cheat. She said Claire McCaskill was taught as a child in the church to act on behalf of others, not just talk about it.

The elder McCaskill also took issue with Post-Dispatch columnist Sylvester Brown. In his column Sunday, Brown said he left his recent face-to-face meeting with the Democratic candidate unimpressed. "I didn't hear anything that made me too hopeful about political and economic progress for local blacks," he wrote.

"He didn't point out the fact that when Claire had the biggest prosecutor's office in the state, she hired more African-Americans." Betty Ann told Lizz Brown. "This is actions speaking louder than words."

Lizz Brown's show can be podcasted from the White Rose Society's website here.

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Pub Def on "Meet the Press"

By Antonio D. French

Filed Sunday, October 08, 2006 at 1:35 PM

PUB DEF was quoted on "Meet the Press" this morning during the debate between Sen. Jim Talent and State Auditor Claire McCaskill.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to George W. Bush, because he’s become an issue in the campaign. Ms. McCaskill, you were quoted in the pubdef.net giving a speech which was blogged, saying, “She reminded people that ‘George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black.’” One, why would you say that, and do you believe it?



MS. McCASKILL: Well, first, I was acknowledging how thousands and millions of Americans felt. The visual that we all saw in Hurricane Katrina was frankly, something none of us will ever forget. Incompetence turned tragic because the people there were unable to help themselves. This administration...

MR. RUSSERT: But do you think the president let people die because they were poor and black?

MS. McCASKILL: I do not, I do not believe the president is a racist. I was acknowledging the feelings of many, many Americans that this administration has left the most vulnerable, helpless—this administration has been about Wall Street and not about average Americans.

MR. RUSSERT: But do you apologize for this statement?

MS. McCASKILL: I, I think if it is misinterpreted that I was calling the president a racist...

MR. RUSSERT: Misinterpreted? “George Bush let people die on rooftops because they were poor and because they were black.”

MS. McCASKILL: That was—I was acknowledging what Americans believed at the time.

MR. RUSSERT: So you stand by it?

MS. McCASKILL: Absolutely, that’s what Americans believed. Now, I don’t believe he’s a racist, and if that—if people think—and maybe I shouldn’t have said it that way, Tim. Maybe I should have said it another way. I probably should have said it another way. But the feelings are real.

And by the way, if we had that tragedy, how ready are we for a disaster in this country? After the billions of dollars spent—once again, no accountability—they still are not looking in Congress at how all the money was misspent in Katrina. With all the billions spent on homeland security, our citizens died because we couldn’t get them food or water. This is not an administration that is ready to protect us.

Click here to read the transcript. Click here to read our original story in which this comment was first reported. And check back later to see the video from today's debate.

UPDATE: Click here to watch the entire debate on MSNBC's website.

UPDATE 2: Thanks to Christina Bellantoni for mentioning PUB DEF in her article on the debate in Monday's The Washington Times.

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Talent Would Still Have Voted For Iraq War -- Even Without WMD Claims

By Antonio D. French

Senator Jim Talent told moderator Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" this morning that he would have voted for to go to war in Iraq even if he knew there were no weapons of mass destruction.

MR. RUSSERT: Knowing what you know today, knowing what you know today, that Saddam did not have the weapons of destruction that our intelligence agencies thought he had, if you knew that today, would you still vote for the war?

SEN. TALENT: Well, yeah, I mean, I think...

MR. RUSSERT: You still would?

SEN. TALENT: ...it was the—I think it was the only possible strategic choice. Look, Saddam had been an organic threat in the region for a long time. He represented a threat to us. That threat is now gone. Tim, look at what’s not happening.

MR. RUSSERT: But Senator, isn’t it an important question: if, if, if the CIA said to you, “Saddam does not have weapons of biological, chemical, or a nuclear program,” you would still vote for the war?

SEN. TALENT: Well, he wanted them. He was trying to get rid of economic sanctions. He would’ve had $70-a-barrel oil. He’d have been competing with—I mean, if action had not been taken to remove Saddam, the same people who are being critical of what’s going on in Iraq now would be screaming that we’d left him in power. We’d have another Iran there. That threat’s been removed.

Click here for the full transcript.

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Senate Debate on "Meet the Press"

By Antonio D. French

Filed Saturday, October 07, 2006 at 5:49 PM

Missouri's Democratic and Republican U.S. Senate candidates will be debating before a national audience tomorrow morning. Sen. Jim Talent and State Auditor Claire McCaskill will take questions from respected moderator Tim Russert on NBC's "Meet the Press". The show airs locally at 8:00 a.m. on KSDK Channel 5. Set those Tivos!

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Margin of Error

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, October 06, 2006 at 8:16 AM

We haven't reported very much on polls in the current race for U.S. Senate between Republican incumbent Jim Talent and Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill. We haven't because the different polls continue to report the same information: it's too close to tell.

A new USA Today/Gallup poll says McCaskill leads Talent 44% to 39% with 7% undecided. But the poll, conducted on Sept. 27, has a margin of error of 5%, meaning McCaskill could have as high as 49% or as little as 39% support.

Similarly, a poll released yesterday by Reuters and Zogby said Talent was leading the race with 43% to McCaskill's 39%. This time the poll had a slightly better margin of error of 4%, but still putting the two candidates in a virtual tie.

It remains too close to tell. And as any political scientist or Election Day poll worker will tell you, there's only one poll that really matters. And it's just 32 days away.

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Political Briefs

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, October 03, 2006 at 8:34 AM

BIG LEAGUE, BIG DOUGH -- Sports fans weren't the only ones holding their breaths hoping the Cardinals wouldn't blow winning their 3rd straight National League Central Division title last weekend. Business owners had their fingers crossed too.

RCGA Chief Economist Bryan Bezold estimates that each home playoff game will have an estimated direct and indirect impact of $2.8 million on the St. Louis regional economy. "This economic impact is due to fan spending in and around Busch Stadium, approximately $1.5 million per game, and the indirect benefits are due to the circulation of that money throughout the region, worth another $1.3 million," Bezold noted Monday in a RCGA briefing.

Tickets to the game for you and your kid - $75. Food and drinks - $55. Watching a home game at home on TV because you can't afford to see the inside of the new Busch Stadium - priceless.

CAN STL BE LIKE ATL? -- Speaking of the RCGA, next month Chairman Scott Schnuck will be leading a delegation of 125 St. Louis regional business, civic and elected leaders in Missouri and Illinois on a trip to Georgia to meet with more than 25 of their Atlanta counterparts. They'll be trying to find out how Atlanta has been so much more successful in the areas of economic development, transit, education, parks and trails, and race relations.

Could it be that many of St. Louis' finest black thinkers in the areas of economic development, transit, education, parks and trails, and race relations all run to Atlanta, a place where they can actually get a job?

BRINGING IN BACKUP -- Claire McCaskill's getting a little more help from the phenom to the East, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). Obama -- who told a crowd in St. Louis back in March, "I can't do it alone!" -- will be stumping for the Democatic Senate candidate again this weekend (Oct. 7) -- this time in Kansas City.

Meanwhile, her Republican opponent, incumbent Sen. Jim Talent, is having special guest of his own at a breakfast fundraiser on his birthday, Oct. 18. -- Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC). Let's hope she isn't inspired to go all "Marilyn Monroe" and sing "Happy Birthday, Mr. Senator".

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AUDIO: Talent on the Bosley Show

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, October 02, 2006 at 11:22 AM

Approaching the last 30 days of a very close re-election campaign against Democrat Claire McCaskill, Republican Sen. Jim Talent made his fourth appearance on former Mayor Freeman Bosley, Jr.'s radio show yesterday. This time the subject was Iraq.

Talent, who spoke via cell phone on his way to Sunday service at the Cathedral in the Central West End, said America must win the war in Iraq and leave behind a functioning, stable democracy operated by Iraqis.

"We gotta win," said Talent. "If we don't win then that encourages the other side and it'll be a set back for us."

Talent's appearance on Bosley's show, which airs on hip-hop station 100.3 FM, is just the latest example of the Chesterfield Republican's push to make inroads into the tradition Democratic base of black voters. Here's an 8-minute clip from the show...

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Creepy Image on Front Page of Post

By Antonio D. French

Filed Sunday, October 01, 2006 at 8:00 PM

Are we the only ones that find this image from today's cover of the Post-Dispatch disturbing?



It's almost like, what if Frankenstein's monster ran for the U.S. Senate. "Fire bad! Either you're with us or you're with the fire!"

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STL American, WTF?

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, September 28, 2006 at 9:03 AM

From today's "Political Eye" column in the St. Louis American: "...several other African-American businessmen announced Monday that they are backing Talent and gave his Democratic opponent Claire McCaskill an 'F' on the issues."

Now how would they know about that report card? There was no American reporter in the room -- or any other reporter except PUB DEF's -- but no mention of our exclusive report or photos.

It is very tiring to have to fight over and over for the same basic courtesy that any other reporter would get. A little appreciation for making it so easy for these larger news organizations to simply copy-and-paste their stories would be nice.

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McCaskill's Facebook Mystery

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, September 27, 2006 at 6:44 PM

Someone is updating U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill's Facebook profile -- and it ain't her.

According to The Maneater, the student newspaper of the University of Missouri in Columbia, Facebook, a social networking website popular among college students, created thousands of pages for gubernatorial and congressional candidates, including McCaskill. But to the average visitor, it appears as though the candidates themselves created the page.

A Facebook spokesman told The Maneater that the login codes were made available to the campaigns so that they -- and only they -- can update the info. But apparently someone else was updating it -- with suprising accuracy (who knew she loved Crosby, Stills and Nash?).

"The information looks accurate, but it seems as though the page was written in a way that appears it was written by Claire McCaskill," the campaign's spokeswoman, Adrianne Marsh, told the paper.

According to The Maneater, the McCaskill campaign contacted Facebook administrators Monday and requested that the profile be taken down and replaced with a series of links. The profile now includes only her educational history, contact information and links to her official Web site. We'd give you a link, but registration is required to view Facebook pages.

Back in April, the staff of the Columbia Missourian created a mock-up of Pres. George W. Bush's Facebook profile. Click here to see it.

FUN FACT: Guess who the editor-in-chief of The Maneater was back in 1999... None other than Post-Dispatch City Hall reporter Jake Wagman.

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AUDIO: McCaskill Defends Record, Asks Why Crumpton Was at Talent's Event

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, September 26, 2006 at 5:14 PM

State Auditor Claire McCaskill defended her record this morning on WGNU's "The Wake-Up Call with Lizz Brown" against what her campaign called "totally unfounded" statements made at a fundraiser for her opponent, U.S. Senator Jim Talent.

In PUB DEF's exclusive story yesterday from the event hosted by a group of local black businessmen, we reported that two of the hosts printed a large poster calling out McCaskill on what they said was a decades-long silence on issues relating to blacks. They gave the senate candidate an F grade in four different categories.

The mock report card was an answer to a similar failing report given to Talent from the NAACP on his record. Today during a one-hour block of paid air time, McCaskill told radio host Lizz Brown she thought it was strange to see on PubDef.net that local NAACP head Harold Crumpton was among those in attendance at yesterday's event.



"Maybe you can explain this to me," said McCaskill, who was calling in on a cell phone. "The NAACP gives Jim Talent an F on his report card for the way he has voted in Congress and [Talent's supporters] have a press event trying to make up some problems I have, which are not real, and the head of the NAACP in St. Louis is there?"

Brown answered that Crumpton is not your typical NAACP president. "If the NAACP gave out indictments... we would have the most indicted head of the NAACP in the State of Missouri."

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VIDEO: Jim Talent Interview

By Antonio D. French

PUB DEF EXCLUSIVE

Republican Sen. Jim Talent, in the middle of a very close campaign with Democrat State Auditor Claire McCaskill, took a few minutes yesterday to sit down with PUB DEF to discuss what he sees as the choice facing Missouri voters in November. He also answers why he's taken the position he has on the stem cell debate and why he hasn't taken a position on the proposal to raise Missouri's minimum wage.

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VIDEO: J.C. Watts Interview

By Antonio D. French

PUB DEF EXCLUSIVE

Before retiring in 2002, J.C. Watts was the lone black Republican in Congress, the first elected from a southern state in over 120 years. Today he is a businessman and ordained minister in his home state of Oklahoma and a talking head on cable news.

Yesterday Watts was in St. Louis to speak to a group of local black business, religous and civic leaders. He also spoke with PUB DEF about his friend, Sen. Jim Talent ("He listens to hear, not to respond."), and the anti-incumbent sentiment of voters across the nation ("If you find yourself in a ditch, you probably dug it.").

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Black Businessmen Raise Funds for Talent, Give McCaskill "F" on Issues

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, September 25, 2006 at 12:41 PM

PUB DEF EXCLUSIVE

Republican Sen. Jim Talent continues his push to make inroads with black voters. A group of African-American business leaders held a breakfast fundraiser for Talent this morning at the offices of Midwestern Construction Company in old north St. Louis.



The host committee included Midwest owner Charles Kirkwood, entrepreneur Darryl Jones, David Steward of World Wide Technology, Bryan Cave attorney Jerry Hunter, and political consultant Tim Person. The event also featured a special guest, former Congressman J.C. Watts, Jr. from Oklahoma.

Talent told the roomful of nearly 100 black business, civic, and church leaders that too often politicians come to the African-American community and tell them what they are going to do. He said what he tries to do is ask people what they want him to do for them.

"Politicians do that with other communities of interest," said Talent. "I don't go to the farmers and say this is what Jim Talent thinks ought to happen in agriculture."

While Talent made only a couple of indirect mentions of his Democratic challenger, State Auditor Claire McCaskill, his supporters took a more direct approach.

Darryl Jones held up a glossy poster which read: "...Let's See Claire's Report Card", an answer to the NAACP's report card which is often referenced by McCaskill supporters. On that report card, the organization gave Sen. Talent a failing grade. On this report card, paid for by Jones and Kirkwood, McCaskill scored F's in three categories relating to black St. Louis and an F minus in the more general "Fighting for Our Communities" category (click here to see the card).

Familiar faces attending today's event included former school board member and Urban League CEO James Buford, Rev. Sam Jones, NAACP Pres. Harold Crumpton, and former St. Louis Rams star Mike Jones.

Talent and Watts both sat down with PUB DEF for an interview. Click here to see video of our conversation with Talent and click here to see Mr. Watts.

To see more photos from today's event go to www.pubdef.net/photos/talent_fundraiser

UPDATE: The McCaskill campaign calls Jones and Kirkwood's claims "totally unfounded." Adrianne Marsh, the campaign's communications director, sent the following statement to PUB DEF this afternoon:

"When elected as Prosecutor and as Auditor, Claire walked into offices that had little to no diversity and she made unprecedented changes for the better. Additionally, she conducted ground breaking audits that affected African American businesses, including an audit of the Minority Business Enterprise to ensure that diversity within state contracts was a priority.

At a time when the voice of those who have been adversely affected by the policies of the Bush Administration should be heard, Senator Talent wants to prevent thousands from voting by supporting both the state and national Voter I.D. laws aimed at disenfranchising minority, disabled and older voters. Claire has been and always will be a champion for the African American community."

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5th and Final Debate Set for K.C.

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, September 21, 2006 at 8:53 PM

Jim Talent and Claire McCaskill today accepted an offer by KMBC-TV, KCPT-TV, KCUR-FM and the Examiner Independence to debate in Kansas City on October 18. This is the fifth scheduled debate between the two U.S. Senate candidates.

The Kansas City debate will take place at the University Academy charter school. The debate will be moderated by KMBC-TV’s new anchor Larry Moore. The panelists are KMBC-TV’s political reporter Michael Mahoney, Kansas City Star political reporter Steve Kraske, KCPT-TV public affairs and the news programming director Nick Haines, KCUR-FM news director Frank Morris and Examiner Independence editorial board editor Jeff Fox.

Talent and McCaskill participated in their first debate last Friday at the Lake of the Ozarks. The candidates will also debate on October 8 on NBC's "Meet the Press" in Washington, D.C., on October 11 in St. Louis and on October 16 in Springfield.

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GOP charges McCaskill with "hiding" environmental group's endorsement

By Antonio D. French

The Sierra Club recently endorsed State Auditor Claire McCaskill in her bid to unseat U.S. Senator Jim Talent, but Republicans today charged the McCaskill campaign with trying to hide her support from the pro-environment organization, which is often at odds with conservative lawmakers.

"You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep," said Paul Sloca, communications director for the Missouri Republican Party, in a press release sent out this morning. He pointed out the Sierra Club's endorsement is not among those listed on McCaskill's website.

"The McCaskill-Sierra Club agenda is clear: No to ethanol, no to farmers, no to job creation, no to private property rights, no to flood control and no to locks and dams. Claire McCaskill’s record shows she would put the interests of the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters ahead of Missouri interests. Missourians can’t afford that risk," said Sloca.

The McCaskill campaign has not yet replied to a request for comment.

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NRSC Dumps $800K in Senate Race

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, September 20, 2006 at 4:48 PM

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has just bought $792,000 of anti-Claire McCaskill TV time, according to FEC documents submitted today.

The NRSC also paid $15,000 for "survey research" and $29,379 for "media production" in support of Sen. Jim Talent.

Thanks to the TPM Cafe and PUB DEF commenter Matty Fred for the heads-up.

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3rd Congressional District Meeting

By Antonio D. French

U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill and State Auditor candidate Susan Montee will be addressing a meeting of the 3rd Congressional District Democratic Committee tomorrow at the Firefighter's Hall. Central Committee Chairman Brian Wahby tells PUB DEF that "all Democrats are invited."

The meeting starts at 7:00 at 4271 Delor (just east of Gravois in the Bevo Neighborhood).

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Talent-McCaskill Video Roundup

By Antonio D. French

Rush Limbaugh discusses PUB DEF and Sylvester Brown's reports on the tensions between black Democrats and the state party...



Jim Talent gets attacked for comments he made about amnesty for illegal immigrants...



Claire McCaskill gets knocked on talk radio...



A pro-Talent commercial is edited to show his how it conflicts with his actual voting record...



Some guy in Kansas City is pissed that his Talent signs keep getting stolen...



Talent gets grilled by a reporter in Springfield last week...

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McCaskill lucky Willie's bus was clean

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, September 18, 2006 at 3:29 PM

Music legend Willie Nelson, who was recently in St. Louis to endorse U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, was issued a misdemeanor citation this morning for possession of narcotic mushrooms and marijuana.

According to the AP, Louisiana State Police stopped Nelson's tour bus early this morning for a routine commercial inspection when a state trooper smelled marijuana inside. Police seized about 1.5 pounds of marijuana and two-tenths of a pound of mushrooms.

PUB DEF interviewed McCaskill just a few weeks ago standing in front of that very bus. We had joked with her communications director, Adrianne Marsh, earlier that day about whether Willie Nelson's tour bus is a place a Senate candidate really wants to be in the final weeks of the campaign.



UPDATE: The McCaskill Campaign has some more star support. Rock star and Missouri native Sheryl Crow has recorded a video message in support of Claire McCaskill. Click here to watch it.

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Political Briefs

By Antonio D. French

SMART PLAY, REGARDLESS - The Kansas City Star's Steve Kraske gave U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill props for the "Smart Move of the Week" for buying 100 tickets to last weekend's Rams game, helping to ensure the game would be broadcast locally. "It gave McCaskill a big splash of free media in the state's largest media market," wrote Kraske.

But some Republicans are talking conspiracy. STLMedia.net is reporting allegations that the McCaskill campaign and the KMOV sales department made a deal to give the campaign TV coverage in exchange for the buying the tickets, valued at $4,400.

"The sell-out made it possible for KMOV to air the game, which otherwise would have been blacked out locally," writes Mike Anderson. "Unconfirmed, so far, but eminently believable: without a News Director and GM Alan Cohen out of town, the Sales Manager forced the deal through, promising the news coverage in return for the sell-out of tickets so the game could air and thus be sponsored locally."

CAPITOL INACTION - As legislators gathered in Jefferson City last week for their annual Veto Session, many observers were left wondering, "What's the point?"

In the constitutionally required session, the State Legislature declined to override any of Gov. Matt Blunt's vetoes (he only made four line-item budget vetoes this year) and a move to restore some of the Governor's harmful reductions in Medicaid benefits didn't even make it on the agenda.

"We could've ensured some of our most vulnerable citizens could continue to report for work. But we didn't," State Sen. Maida Coleman told the Associated Press.

One cynical Capitol observer noted that, despite accomplishing next to nothing, all of the legislators that showed up did get paid for their efforts -- and if they opted to stay overnight, they got paid for that too. For those that did stay overnight, several lobbyist-sponsored Shindigs kept them from getting too bored in their hotel rooms.

THE AIR WAR - Both Jim Talent and Claire McCaskill are duking it out on the tube now. After a month-long headstart in which incumbent Talent ran unanswered commercials touting his centrist "political party's don't matter" message, challenger McCaskill joined the TV fight last week with an ad featuring her mom, daughter, and true-and-through Missouri values.

The Hill's Jonathan E. Kaplan reported on a survey which showed both ads appealing to centrist voters. From his article:

The survey conducted by Wilson Research Strategies showed that the advertisements were equally appealing: Talent's ad was slightly more effective than McCaskill's ad, 42 to 38 percent. But among independents, McCaskill's ad trumped Talent's by 42 to 34 percent.

Nevertheless, neither ad was particularly impressive to the respondents in terms of message, effectiveness or an ad that "I would talk about." Both ads scored lower than the average in each category. Yet they were equally appealing, earning a 5.8 on a 10-point scale. McCaskill's ad was more memorable.

Kaplan quotes political handicapper Stuart Rothenberg calling the race a "toss-up", but adding he thought of the five most vulnerable Republican seats, the Republicans are most likely to hold Talent's.

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Talent, McCaskill Agree to Debate #4

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, September 13, 2006 at 7:51 PM

From the press release:

U.S. Senator Jim Talent and U.S. Senate Candidate Claire McCaskill have accepted their fourth debate today, which will be held on October 11th at 8:00 P.M. at Clayton High School in St. Louis.

The debate will be hosted by the Clayton Chamber of Commerce and will be broadcast live on local television by KSDK Channel 5 (NBC) and also on radio by KWMU 90.7 FM.

This is the candidates' fourth scheduled debate so far. They will also debate on September 15th at Lake Ozark for the Missouri Press Association's Candidate’s Forum, on October 8th in Washington, D.C. on NBC's "Meet the Press", and on October 16th in Springfield for a debate hosted by KYTV Channel 3 (NBC), Ozarks Public Television, KSMU 91.1 FM and the Springfield News-Leader.

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Back from D.C., Catching Up

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, September 11, 2006 at 7:13 PM

Back home after four days in Washington and what seemed like a week in O'Hare airport in Chicago (sometimes known as the place on-time flights go to die).

Checking up on some email and much of it was about the story we broke last week which included a controversial quote by U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill. National news organizations like the Associated Press, Congressional Quarterly, and The Washington Times (in tomorrow's edition) all picked up the story. As did blogs like the Daily Kos and many others.

[UPDATE: Here's a link to the Washington Times story.]

And of course the conservatives ate it up, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Rush Limbaugh (click here to listen).

As you can imagine, the site has been getting a lot of traffic over the past few days. And many of our videos have for the first time earned honors on YouTube.

Our video of Bill Clinton at Claire McCaskill's rally is currently one of the "Most Linked" videos today in the News & Blogs category.

Keep sharing our videos with others. And bloggers, feel free to post them on your own sites, like so. We don't mind at all -- as long as you don't edit it and you give us our props.

And folks, please take a minute to rate and comment on our videos after viewing them on YouTube or Vimeo. That helps ensure even more people will see them.

And if you haven't already, click here to vote for PUB DEF in the RFT's "Best Of" annual listing.

Thanks.

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VIDEO: Clinton Stumps for McCaskill

By Antonio D. French

Filed Sunday, September 10, 2006 at 4:59 PM

Former President Bill Clinton was in St. Louis yesterday to raise money and votes for Democrat Claire McCaskill in her bid to unseat U.S. Senator Jim Talent. Here's some video from the public rally at The Pageant.

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McCaskill Stands by Comments

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, September 08, 2006 at 9:17 AM

U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill has received strong criticism from Republican leaders for comments she made about Pres. George W. Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina that were first reported on this blog.

Earlier this week, McCaskill told a group of local elected officials, which included white and black Democrats, that she would remind people over the course of her campaign against Republican Sen. Jim Talent that "George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) both called on McCaskill to retract her words yesterday (who knew they read PUB DEF?). Frist even went so far as to say her criticisms were in some way aimed at the "under-staffed, under-equipped medical personnel making heroic efforts to save lives" in New Orleans.

To her credit, McCaskill didn't deny her words or backtrack on their meaning. She said she was just voicing "what many people felt about the tragedy of the response to Katrina."

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver is one of those many people. Yesterday in Washington, Cleaver told a group of several hundred people at a Congressional Black Caucus event that Hezbollah did a better job responding to the needs of their people in Lebanon after the recent war than America did after Katrina (see our exclusive video).

In a related matter... PUB DEF is more than a little irritated at our town's daily newspaper today. After picking up on our story and running with it throughout the day yesterday on their website, they completely left out the name of our website and even the name of this reporter in the print edition of the story in today's paper. We believe the snub was deliberate and find it completely unprofessional. It seems the paper's senior political reporter is "hating the player" because we are constantly beating her in the game.

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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

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!"

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Talent jabs McCaskill on Clinton visit

By Antonio D. French

U.S. Senator Jim Talent today jabbed his Democratic opponent, State Auditor Claire McCaskill, on her upcoming visit by President Bill Clinton -- who his campaign refered to as "Hillary Clinton's husband."

In a fundraising email to supporters, Talent said McCaskill has already "embraced the help of John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, John Edwards and her personal 'hero' Howard Dean - but sharing the stage with Bill Clinton shows just how far she'll go to carry the banner for the Washington liberals."

Clinton will be in town Saturday for a $2,100-per-person fundraiser for McCaskill at The Chase Park Plaza and a free Democratic rally at the Pageant on Delmar earlier in the day.

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McCaskill on Hardball

By Antonio D. French

U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill sent out a media advisory moments ago saying their candidate will be on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" at 6:00 this evening. From the advisory:

Today, during MSNBC’s day-long programming dedicated to politics in America, U.S. Senate Claire McCaskill will be interviewed by Chris Matthews on Hardball. The show will profile the McCaskill-Talent race. Even after $2.5 million in G.O.P. television ads, Sunday’s St. Louis Post Dispatch/Research 2000 Poll shows McCaskill leading Talent 47-46.

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Some Felt Snubbed by McCaskill's Early Exit, Staffer Says Family Comes First

By Antonio D. French

Filed Sunday, August 27, 2006 at 9:23 AM

Some attendees of Friday's NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner were upset by what they described as a "snub" from the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. PUB DEF received the following report yesterday from one insulted attendee:

State auditor Claire McCaskill, a democrat who is working to unseat incumbent U.S. Senator Jim Talent(R-MO) seemingly gave short shrift to the St. Louis County Chapter of the NAACP when she stopped by before the group's 65th annual Freedom Fund Dinner last night at the Airport Hilton and stayed only 10 minutes.

Dinner attendees who were mingling outside the ballroom before the dinner said they caught a fleeting glimpse of McCaskill who smiled and waved during a quick walk-through.

Her political director,
Brandon Davis, was later AWOL when he was called to the dais during the event to convey greetings from McCaskill. He failed to respond when his name was mentioned and some dinner attendees noted that he left shortly after McCaskill did.

If McCaskill stayed she eventually could have glad-handed at least 500 potential voters and touched bases with influential people like attorney
Frankie Freeman, County Executive Charlie Dooley, State Representatives John Bowman (D-70) and Esther Haywood (D-71), State Senator Rita Days, radio personality Deneen Busby, and television journalist Bonita Cornute.

McCaskill could have politicked with
Jim Buford, president of the St. Louis Urban League, county NAACP president Ina Boon and her counterpart in the St. Louis city branch, Harold Crumpton.

It seems like she missed an opportunity to score some points with a segment of her electoral base. The crowd could have been considered a broad cross section of the Black community that was equal parts male and female, of varying incomes, suburban and urban, and between the voting ages of 18 and 70. That is a demographic McCaskill sleeps on while she assiduously courts rural Missouri farmers and others.


PUB DEF contacted the campaign's communications director, Adrianne Marsh, who said McCaskill had a very busy schedule Friday and did not expect to even be able to make the dinner at all.

She said McCaskill left early because of a family obligation. "It's difficult balancing being a candidate for statewide office and a mother of three teenage daughters," said Marsh.

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Talent, McCaskill Agree to 3rd Debate

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 9:03 PM

Sen. Jim Talent and challenger Claire McCaskill today accepted an offer by KYTV, Ozarks Public Television, KSMU and the Springfield News-Leader to debate during prime time on Monday, October 16.

The Springfield debate will be moderated by KY3 News Anchor Jerry Jacob and the panel will include KY3 Political Reporter Dave Catanese, Springfield News-Leader Editorial Board Editor Tony Messenger (what a great name for a reporter) and KSMU Senior Governmental Affairs Reporter Missy Shelton.

The candidates will also meet in Lake Ozark on September 15, at the Missouri Press Association's Candidate’s Forum, and in Washington, D.C. on October 8, for a debate on NBC's "Meet the Press."

We're told that both campaigns are continuing to work together to schedule additional debates in other regions of the state -- St. Louis, anyone?

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VIDEO: Claire McCaskill Interview

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, August 22, 2006 at 9:32 PM

U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill took a few minutes to talk to PUB DEF before tonight's Willie Nelson concert at the UMB Bank Pavilion in St. Louis County. The country music star has thrown his support behind McCaskill's campaign against Republican Sen. Jim Talent.



We discussed how effective celebrity support is in a close race like hers, why she thinks Nelson chose to support her campaign, what she thinks about Talent's silence on the issue of raising Missouri's minimum wage (which voters will decide the same day they select a U.S. Senator), and if she is worried about having much less money in the bank than her opponent.

We have requested an interview with Sen. Jim Talent some time in the near future.

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Will Claire jam with Willie?

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, August 21, 2006 at 12:39 PM

A spokesperson for Claire McCaskill's U.S. Senate campaign said their candidate will be joining country and folk music star Willie Nelson at the UMB Bank Pavilion on tomorrow.

We're told Nelson will be endorsing McCaskill, described as "the true champion for family farmers in this race."

"Claire knows who needs a voice in next year’s farm bill. I have been all across this beautiful land and I have seen how the big corporations are squeezing out our family farms. I know she’ll do what’s right to protect this long-standing way of life," Nelson is quoted in the press release.

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Political Briefs

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, August 18, 2006 at 6:22 AM

HAM MAKES IT OKAY - U.S. Senator Jim Talent and his Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill may not be each other's favorite people right now, but it was all smiles yesterday at the State Fair's annual ham breakfast.

About 900 people attended the event -- with nearly all of them clearly already supporting one candidate or the other with a t-shirt or sticker proudly planted on their chests. For their part, Talent and McCaskill bumped into each other a few times and spoke cordially about family, the weather, and of course, ham.

HOUSE OF CLAY - Congressman Lacy Clay is hosting a free conference on homeownership starting this weekend. "10 Weeks to Homeownership" is being held at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 1444 S. Compton, in cooperation with FannieMae, CitiMortgage, New Day Realty and With Ownership Wealth (WOW).

Word on the street is Congressman Russ Carnahan may be needing those services as he packs up and moves to a newly purchased home in Washington D.C. [UPDATE: Joel Jennings, Carnahan's communications director, tells us that the Congressman has only secured a larger apartment "to better accommodate his family when in D.C." and not actually bought a house.]

CROSSING $2M BRIDGES - Gov. Matt Blunt told reporters this week that he has not decided yet whether he will be running for re-election in 2008. But there is one thing he (and now we) definitely does know: he is "absolutely not" interested in running for a seat in the U.S. House or Senate.

As for what he'll do with the nearly $2 million he has already raised should he decide not to run: "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," he told the Columbia Daily Tribune.

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Political Briefs

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, August 14, 2006 at 8:35 AM

TALENT WON'T TELL - The Secretary of State's office last week approved for the November ballot a measure that would raise the minimum wage in Missouri to $6.50 ($1.35 higher than the federal minimum wage). Gov. Matt Blunt is against it, candidate for U.S. Senate Claire McCaskill says she supports it, but her opponent, incumbent Jim Talent won't say whether he favors it or is against it.

We do know that Talent did support a bump in the federal minimum wage -- but only if it was linked to another tax cut for businesses and America's most wealthy individuals. We also know (thanks to the Associated Press) that one of the groups opposing the ballot measure is the National Federation of Independent Business, which Talent briefly lobbied for in Washington after he lost his 2000 campaign for Governor and left the U.S. House.

THE CASE OF PERCY V. SLAY - Percy Green will have his day in court Wednesday. The jury trial is expected to last only a few days as the legendary activist makes his case against the City of St. Louis and Mayor Francis Slay for his 2001 termination as director of the Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise (MBE/WBE) Certification program. Green contends that the mayor wanted to weaken the office for political reasons.

"The purpose of the certification program was to prevent white, male-owned businesses from setting up 'front' companies to get city contracts that should go to legitimate minority- or woman-owned businesses," wrote Green in an email. "A weak (or non-existent) certification program benefits Slay because his major political contributors are owners of businesses that stand to profit from doing business with illegitimate 'front' companies."

The trial is set for August 16, at 9:00 a.m. in the new Thomas Eagleton Federal Courthouse, 111 South 10th St., in Judge Jean C. Hamilton's Courtroom, #16 North.

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Talent and McCaskill to debate on 'Meet the Press' in October

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, August 07, 2006 at 12:20 PM

U.S. Senator Jim Talent and his Democratic challenger, State Auditor Claire McCaskill, today accepted an offer by NBC’s "Meet the Press" to debate on the program on Sunday, October 8.

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VIDEO: McCaskill Gets FOP Nod, Says She Supports Police Residency

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, July 26, 2006 at 5:43 PM

Democrat Claire McCaskill, who is looking to unseat Missouri Republican Senator Jim Talent in November, officially received the endorsement of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police today at a press conference in front of the Eagleton Courthouse.

Butch Albert, Vice President of the FOP, said McCaskill, a former prosecutor in Jackson County, has been a valuable ally in law enforcement's fight against Methamphetamines. McCaskill said Talent, whose campaign today repeated claims that she opposed his federal Anti-Meth law, has mischaracterized her position.



Afterwards, PUB DEF asked McCaskill what her position is on St. Louis City's police residency requirement, something that the FOP and other police organizations oppose.



"I think the people of St. Louis are the ones that should decide that," said McCaskill. "I know that for some members of the FOP that's a tough stance on my behalf."

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Cops Endorse McCaskill

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 4:11 PM

Claire McCaskill's campaign announced today that she has received the endorsement of the Missouri State Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).

Law enforcement officers from the over 5,000 members of the FOP will join McCaskill and local Sheriffs for the official endorsement tomorrow at 2:15 p.m. in front of the Eagleton Federal Courthouse, 111 South 10th Street, in downtown St. Louis.

McCaskill, who is seeking to replace U.S. Senator Jim Talent, will also outline her plan to give local law enforcement the tools they need to "fight terrorism and make Missouri more secure."

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Talent Commercials (with commentary)

By Antonio D. French

Filed Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 11:43 AM

As you may have heard, or even seen, Jim Talent is using his considerable financial advantage over his Democratic challenger, Claire McCaskill, to start running television commercials rather early, with well over three months before the November general election.

You can view those commercials on Talent's website, along with little intros by the senator himself. "It's kind of like the director's commentary on a DVD," Talent says about the Internet broadcast.

Click here
to view Talent's director cuts.

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Clark stumping for McCaskill

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, July 20, 2006 at 3:12 PM

Former Presidential Candidate General Wesley Clark will in Missouri tomorrow to help raise money for Claire McCaskill in her campaign against U.S. Senator Jim Talent.

"At a time when so much needs to be fixed, we can't afford 6 more years of 'maybe'," wrote Clark in a letter to supporters of his WesPAC. "We need strength, we need independence, and we need clarity and conviction," referencing the time it took for Talent to announce his position on stem cell research.

Clark will join McCaskill at Talayna's Restaurant in Chesterfield, on the southwest corner of Olive and Woods Mill Rd, tomorrow from 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

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McCaskill delivers Democratic response

By Antonio D. French

Filed Saturday, July 15, 2006 at 10:30 AM

U.S. Senate Candidate Claire McCaskill today delivered the Democratic response to Pres. George W. Bush's weekly radio address. Click here to listen to her speech in support of stem cell research.

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L.L. Cool Jim - Part 2

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, July 14, 2006 at 10:58 AM

Oh boy. The risk of poking fun at someone is that they could go and up the ante on you. And oh boy has Sen. Jim Talent upped the ante.

Last week, we had a little fun at our junior senator's expense when he announced his Women for Talent coalition. Surrounded by a group of women from all over the state, all willing to give "pink cred" to Talent in his race against Claire McCaskill, we jokingly asked, Do ladies love Cool Jim -- L.L. Cool Jim? Photoshopped pictures of a hip-hopping Talent started coming in.

Well, tomorrow Talent is launching his "African-Americans for Talent" coalition. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.

Before we start receiving Photoshop images that are just plain offensive, let us redirect your creative "talents" back to L.L. Cool Jim. The contest is still on and that "special prize" is still up for grabs!

BTW, Talent will kick-off his African-Americans for Talent coalition on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. at the Renaissance Grand Hotel downtown. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson will attend.

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Carnahan: Vote Today for Claire

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, July 11, 2006 at 8:45 AM

Former Senator Jean Carnahan is doing some online stumping for Democrat Claire McCaskill.

A letter from Carnahan was sent out this morning by McCaskill's ClaireOnline.com staff. In it, the wife of the late Gov. Mel Carnahan, asks supporters to cast their vote today to support McCaskill in an online poll. The poll, conducted by Sen. Barbara Boxer's PAC for a Change committee, will help determine who gets financial aid from some well-funded out-of-state sources.

"It is very expensive to defeat an incumbent Senator," wrote Carnahan. "But casting your vote today for Claire in Senator Barbara Boxer's online poll will pave the way for her to receive more campaign donations and more financial supporters. The candidate who wins this online poll will be included in Senator Boxer's next online solicit."

Click here
to vote for McCaskill in Boxer's poll.
Click here to visit Jim Talent's fundraising page.

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"L.L. Cool Jim" Contest

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, July 06, 2006 at 2:32 PM

CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

Do ladies love cool Jim Talent? That's what Women for Talent would have you think. The U.S. Senator, who is facing a tough challenge from Democrat Claire McCaskill, was joined Thursday morning at the Frontenac Hilton by his wife, Brenda; his two daughters, Kate and Chrissy; and a group of other women from across the state all willing to give Talent some "pink cred" against his female challenger.

Send your own Photoshop interpretations of "L.L. Cool Jim" to editor@pubdef.net. Winner gets a special prize!

Here's one from our favorite local anarchists mischievists, the Bill McClellan Motherfuckers.

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Political Briefs

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, July 05, 2006 at 7:59 AM

CLAIRE THE COUNTRY MOUSE? If you're a city voter and you're starting to think that maybe U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill just isn't that in to you, rest assured. It isn't you, it's her... strategy!

According to an article in Sunday's Washington Post, McCaskill's people noticed something about her 2004 campaign for governor; she lost. This time around, they're giving a little more love to those rural voters who the state GOP has been liplocked with like two Wentzville teenagers high on E.

"What 2004 demonstrated is that we have ignored rural Missouri at our own peril," McCaskill told the paper.

Flirting is always okay. But trying to make it to third base with the quarterback's girlfriend is tough (even when the QB is down by 21 in the 4th quarter). Claire would be wise to remember big brother's Prom Day advice: Go home with the one that brung you to the party.


YAPHETT TAPPED FOR "STRUGGLE" The Organization of Black Struggle endorsed Yaphett El-Amin for the state senate yesterday saying she would "continue to speak truth to power, and stand as an outspoken voice against those who would wage war upon our most vulnerable citizens."

SCHOOL BOARD PUTS SOME TEETH IN ITS OVERSIGHT Starting today, the St. Louis Board of Education will have a new pair of eyes looking over the shoulder of Superintendent Creg Williams and his staff. Just days after the district failed to deliver paychecks to nearly 2,000 employees, the school board now has its own auditor to examine the district's financial picture. Read more here.

FAIRWEATHER FRANCIS Nearly two months after his three-year experiment of unprecedented influence over the City's public schools came to an abrupt and unceremonious end, Mayor Francis Slay seems to be switching from his usual posture as a blind cheerleader for the future of the city's public schools to man deliberately lowering public expectations for the superintendent he helped pick.

The mayor's political advisors have chosen his website as the place to begin a new PR campaign to place blame for the school district's approaching financial disaster at the feet of previous school boards -- nevermind the fact that the mayor has been involved in the hiring of 5 different superintendents and 1 multi-million dollar turnaround team all charged with fixing that problem.

They say it is "unlikely" that Creg Williams will find a solution either. But then, anybody that took a look at the 2007 budget he submitted last month could see that.

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Dead Soldier's Family Forced to Wait

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, June 30, 2006 at 3:31 PM

We overheard a Lambert Airport official today saying the family of
a Missouri soldier killed in Iraq was forced to wait for hours to accept the body Wednesday because of President George W. Bush's arrival in St. Louis for a fundraiser for Sen. Jim Talent.

At the fundraiser, Bush said "one thing about old Jim Talent, he understands what I understand, is that when you put a man or woman in uniform and ask them to go into harm's way, they deserve the full support of the United States government."

Click here to read the text of Bush's speech.

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McCaskill on Hardball tonight

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, June 28, 2006 at 3:38 PM

Claire McCaskill's campaign has sent out a press release saying their candidate will be on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews today at 4:00.

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Talent jabs McCaskill on gay marriage

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, June 07, 2006 at 11:29 AM

Senator Jim Talent voted this morning against a filibuster by Senate Democrats on a proposed Constitutional amendment to outlaw homosexuals from marrying. Talent is a co-sponsor of the amendment which conservatives say would preserve the "traditional definition of marriage."

"This issue represents a big difference between me and my opponent," said Talent in an email to supporters today. "Claire McCaskill supports gay marriage and recently she told the media she's opposed to a Constitutional Amendment to protect traditional marriage."

A spokesperson for McCaskill said the state auditor doesn't think the Senate should be spending time on the issue.

"Claire has always believed that marriage is between a man and a woman. And like John Danforth and Vice-President Cheney, she thinks federal action on this issue is unnecessary," said spokeswoman Adrianne Marsh.

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Talent ready to launch

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, June 01, 2006 at 3:35 PM

Sen. Jim Talent will be formally launching his re-election campaign this weekend.

His campaign has also launched a redesigned campaign website, which includes a "special video message" from the first-term Republican senator.

Tiffany Watkins, Talent's deputy campaign manager, wrote the first entry in the site's new campaign diary.

"Jim will be kicking off his campaign in Springfield, Joplin, Kansas City and Columbia on Friday, June 2, and in St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, St. Joseph and Hannibal on Saturday, June 3," wrote Watkins.

Talent is expected to face Democrat Claire McCaskill in the November election.

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McCaskill headed to Washington to discuss her Military Bill of Rights

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, May 15, 2006 at 3:59 PM

Claire McCaskill is going to Washington -- and she's bringing her family with her.

McCaskill, along with her two sisters, Lisa and Anne, and her mother, Betty Anne, will visit Washington on Friday, May 19, to discuss her plan to take better care of America's troops and their families.

A spokesperson for the Democrat, who is expected to be the party's challenger to Sen. Jim Talent after the August primary, said she plans to meet with local veterans, servicemen, and community members to discuss her proposed Military Bill of Rights.

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Political Briefs

By Antonio D. French

Filed Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 9:38 AM

WHAT WOULD HARRY DO? State Auditor Claire McCaskill will unveil her national security platform Monday in Independence, MO. According to the Kansas City Star, McCaskill, a Democrat challenging Sen. Jim Talent, will speak at 11 a.m. in the downtown square. McCaskill is expected to call for a revival of the Truman Commission, a panel led by then-Sen. Harry Truman that investigated military waste and mismanagement during World War II. She wants a similar commission in the current "War on Terror."

ISN'T THAT DARLENE'S JOB? In response to the vocal opposition to his plan to give a piece of Forest Park to Barnes Hospital, Mayor Francis Slay has asked four aldermen to look into the finances of the deal and let him know if the city is getting a good deal. Looks like the opinion of the city's chief financial officer, the person who voters elected to do that very thing, isn't good enough for the mayor.

Comptroller Darlene Green has made it very clear that she feels the current terms of the deal are not in the best interest of the city. She has ordered a more current appraisal of the land and had requested for the Planning Commission to hold off on approving the deal until that arrived in two weeks. Slay's deputy mayor of development, Barb Geisman, didn't like that idea and pushed ahead with the vote.

BTW, the four aldermen Slay chose were Lyda Krewson, Freeman Bosley, Sr., Fred Wessels, and Steve Conway.

¿NO COMPRENDE? Senator Jim Talent doesn't like the idea of the National Anthem being sung in Spanish. Talent recently told a Knight Ridder reporter that English is the only language for our numero uno song.

"The national anthem is a symbol of unity of a diverse people united by our common values and Constitution." said Talent. "That's why it should be sung in English."

Talent is among the co-sponsors of a bill from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) requiring that the anthem never be recited or sung in a foreign language. There is a similar bill making its way through the House.

FAREWELL, PAT State Senator Pat Dougherty's time in the state legislature is coming to an end. Reporter Virginia Young gives a warm eulogy to this 28-year legislative career in today's edition of the Post-Dispatch. Much attention has and will continue to be put on who will succeed the term-limited Dougherty (whose first senate campaign was managed by this reporter), but we'd like to take just a minute to thank Pat for his decades of public service...

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Truman Days start today

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, May 05, 2006 at 1:25 PM

State Auditor Claire McCaskill, who is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination to run against Sen. Jim Talent, will be speaking tomorrow night at the annual Truman Days banquet in Kansas City.

Party Chairman Roger Wilson and Attorney General (and 2008 candidate for governor) Jay Nixon are also expected to speak.

Truman Days is the Jackson County Central Committee's annual celebration of the Democratic Party and Harry Truman's birthday. Click here for a schedule of the event.

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GOP launches Anti-McCaskill website

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, May 01, 2006 at 8:23 AM

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has launched a website aimed at keeping up a steady stream of attacks on Missouri Auditor and U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill.

McCaskill is maintaining a small lead in the polls over Sen. Jim Talent, who does not appear to be directly linked to this attack site.

CluelessClaire.com attacks statements made by the Auditor on subjects ranging from gay rights and abortion to wiretapping and the Iraq War.

The NRSC has launched similar webites attacking other Democrats. BobsBaggage.com attacks New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez. TheReidWorld.com attacks Sen. Harry Reid. FancyFord.com attacks Congressman Harold Ford, Jr.

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Talent outraises McCaskill

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, April 19, 2006 at 9:47 AM

Senator Jim Talent increased his fundraising lead over State Auditor Claire McCaskill last quarter. The Kansas City Star is reporting that Talent raised $270,000 more than his expected Democratic challenger.

Talent, the incumbent and former congressman, reported nearly $5.7 million in the bank at quarter’s end to McCaskill’s just more than $2 million.

"We’re never going to be able to raise as much as Jim Talent," McCaskill spokeswoman Adrianne Marsh conceded.

One of the most closely watched races in the country, the Missouri showdown should also be one of the costliest, with some projecting total spending could again approach – or top – $20 million. In 2002, Talent won the seat despite being outspent by Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan. Talent spent $8 million to Carnahan’s $12.3 million.

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McCaskill to address Wash U Dems

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, April 17, 2006 at 1:27 PM

State Auditor and candidate for U.S. Senate Claire McCaskill will be speaking to the Washington University Young Democrats this evening at Friedman Lounge on Wash U's campus. The event is open to the public and starts at 8:00 p.m.

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McCaskill meets with Black Caucus [Updated]

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, April 12, 2006 at 6:00 AM

State Auditor Claire McCaskill met with members of the Missouri Legislatve Black Caucus Tuesday to discuss her campaign for U.S. Senate. But sources say McCaskill's real challenge was to mend fences from her 2004 run for governor.

Some black elected officials felt that McCaskill was not a good friend to those that supported her when she was an underdog in that contentious primary race. State Rep. Amber Boykins was one of those that supported McCaskill against then-Gov. Bob Holden. But McCaskill has refused to support Boykins in her race for State Senate.

Others felt that the state auditor, along with the Missouri Democratic Party, undermined the influence of black elected officials by looking to black preachers and certain non-profit organizations to get out the vote in their home districts.

Sources tell PUB DEF that McCaskill expressed her wish that the elected officials would put all of their differences aside for the sake of the party and getting one more Democrat in the Senate.

UPDATE: Part of McCaskill's effort to mend fences apparently includes hiring staffers who worked for her 2004 opponent.

Present at Tuesday's meeting with the Black Caucus was Brandon Davis, the former political director for Gov. Holden's failed re-election campaign. In a press release sent out today, McCaskill formally announced that Davis would now be her political director.

In the same release, McCaskill announced that Richard Martin would be her campaign manager. Martin served as Holden's campaign manager in 2000. He was also the Executive Director for the Missouri Democratic Party from 1993-96 and State Director for the Clinton-Gore Campaign in 1996. His last job was as Director of Tax Policy for Sprint.

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