September 2, 2014

Recount starts on Right to Farm Amendment (AUDIO)

The Secretary of State has started a recount of the vote on the Right to Farm Amendment that was narrowly approved by voters earlier this month. The amendment passed 499,581-497,091.  The 2490-vote margin amounts to .24% of the 996,672 total votes.  State law provides for a state-paid recount if the voting difference is .5% or less.

Spokesman Wes Shoemyer of Missouri Food for America, the opposing group, says the recount is being sought as a matter of keeping faith with opponents, noting, “This was a grass roots…effort for us. And I just  think that when people work that hard, not to do everything possible to secure a victory would do a real disservice to politics in the state of Missouri or issues in the state of Missouri or, frankly, the people of the state of Missouri.”

The recounting is done by county clerks who have until September 15 to finish the job. Backers of the Right to Farm Amendment say a recount is futile. Shoemyer says it will only take one vote changed in one-third of the elections’ 3899 could reverse the result.

Five counties had set recount dates within hours of the state’s call for checking of the ballots.  Washington County has scheduled its recount for Aeptember4.  Lincoln, Henry, and Crawford Counties will do their recounts on September 8. Boone County has scheduled five days for its recount: September 4-5 and September 8-10.  All counties must finish their work by September 15.

AUDIO:: Shoemyer interview 3:54

The Four: time for campaign reform (AuDIO)

Two Republican State Representatives who survived heavily-financed efforts to oust them from office last week think it’s time to reign in what they think are abuses in campaign finance.

Representatives Jeff Messenger of Republic and Lyle Rowland of Cedarcreek, both in southwest Missouri, were targets of retired financier Rex Sinquefield and his political action committee.  They and two others targeted for defeat in last Tuesday’s primary had refused to support a veto override on a tax break bill Sinquefield wanted to pass.

Messenger doesn’t appreciate the kind of campaign launched against him.  He says his people “didn’t want the type of politics coming out St. Louis in our district.”  And Rowland is even stronger, citing the old statement that   “figures don’t lie but liars figure.”   He says that’s what happened in the campaign he won last Tuesday.

Both, as the others, say they won because they stood up; to outsiders thinking they could buy their seats in the House.  Messenger says the campaigns emphasize the need for campaign finance reform, observing, “It’s not right for an organization to come out and try to sway an election, and that seems to be all based around how much money can be generated.”

And Rowland, who withstood a $130,000 campaign against him hopes for the same thing. “I am only hoping that.  I would support some type of reform because it is completely out of control,” he says.

The legislature has done a lot of talking about campaign finance and ethics legislation for years.  But its members have not been threatened as four of them were last week.

AUDIO: Messenger interview 12:45

AUDIO: Rowland interview 13:24

The four: Sinquefield tried to buy seats in House (AUDIO)

The Republican caucus of the Missouri House is meeting today in Kansas City to start planning for the upcoming veto session.  But four of them are likely to have some things to say.  We hear from two of them today; the other two on Monday.

They are the four who beat billionaire Rex Sinquefield’s candidates who were chosen to take them out.  Sinquefield wanted them to enact a tax cut over the Governor’s veto last year and they had not voted his way.  He and his political committee, the Club for Growth spent a half-million dollars trying to beat them. All four have nothing good to say about the Club for Growth, although they are not as harsh in their comments about Sinquefield.  However they say it’s time he became concerned about the people he has put in charge of that operation.

Representative Paul Fitzwater of Potosi admits hard feelings. “I’m kind of bitter,” he says.

Kirksville Representative Nate Walker withstood the heaviest financial assault and although “it was an ugly, brutal type campaign. But we stood up and we won.”

Fitzwater says it is clear what Sinquefield was trying to do, and it’s something voters cannot allow—buying seats in the legislature. “They just can’t come down here and flash their money and think they can buy a seat,” he says. “And that’s what they tried to do. They tried to buy, not one, but four Missouri House seats.”

Walker voiced the same concern, but from a different angle: “When you get too much money from one particular interest group, then the perception is–and maybe the truth is–you’re going to be pretty heavily influenced and maybe not be your own person.”

Fitzwater thinks the elections pointedly emphasize the dangers of a well-heeled special interest getting control of Missouri’s political system.  “If we don’t stand up to these special interest groups like this and let them run over us like they’ve been trying to do, why do we have a legislature?  Why do we have it?”

House Speaker Tim Jones has boasted of having 110 House Republicans after Tuesday, more than needed for veto overrides.  But whether he has 110 votes is up for discussion after the four threatened Representatives won this week.

We’ll have comments from the other two victors, Representatives Jeffrey Messenger and Lyle Rowland, Monday.

AUDIO: Walker interview 16:02

AUDIO: Fitzwater interview 12:22


Did Right to Farm really pass? (AUDIO)

Passage of the Right to Farm Amendment is still not assured.  The final outcome might not be determined until it’s almost October.

The urban vote almost wiped out the substantial majority given the amendment in  rural Missouri.  But it has survived by an unofficial 2,528 votes out of almost 995,000 votes cast.

Certification of the results could take most of the rest of this month.  State law says the state pays for recounts when the margin is less than half a percent.  The margin in this case is .0025%.

Secretary of State spokesman Kevin Flannery says the first step is declaring the results official by August 26.  A recount can be sought within seven days after certification.

The request for the recount has to come within seven days after that certification from someone who voted against the proposal.  A spokesman for the opponents already has said that request will be filed.

The Secretary of State then has twenty more days to work with local election officials to recount and re-certify the vote.  If all the steps of that process go the maximum time, it will be about September 23 before we learn if the amendment did, indeed, pass

AUDIO: Flannery 4:23


Ballot summary

Missouri voters want a right to farm, approve an inalienable right to carry guns, and don’t want law enforcement poking around in their electronic records without a warrant.

But they don’t want to raise money for veterans’ services by buying a special lottery ticket and they don’t think a sales tax is any way to maintain and expand the state’s transportation system.

The Right to Farm Amendment has passed by such a thin margin that a recount is warranted.  The gun rights amendment got about 61% of the vote, and the electronic security amendment found favor with almost 75% of the voters.

But the transportation sales tax, which supporters thought had a chance for a narrow victory, has been rejected by almost 60% of the voters.  And a proposed lottery ticket to benefit veterans’ programs and services has drawn only 45% voter support.


Amendment Seven, the transportation sales tax measure, drew the most interest from voters.  It also took the worst defeat of any of the amendments on the ballot.  The Secretary of  State says 998,495 votes were cast on that issue.


Four Republican  Representatives who faced retribution for refusing to help override Governor Nixon’s veto of  a controversial tax cut bill have survived challenges from within their own party.  Representatives Nate Walker, Paul Fitzwater, Jeffrey Messenger, and Lyle Rowland faced opponents that received tens of thousands of dollars in help from a political action committee largely bankrolled by financier Rex Sinquefield, who wanted the veto overridden.


Republicans candidates have won two of three special elections for House seats, giving the GOP 110 members in the House, enough to override the 33 vetoes issued by the Governor after the Spring legislative session.


State Auditor Tom Schweich, the only statewide candidate on the ballot, needed only one vote to advance to the general election but he got 431,809.  He had no primary election opposition.  He only needs one vote to win in November.  The Democrats have not entered a candidate against him.  Schweich is considered a Republican candidate for Governor in 2016.