Press "Enter" to skip to content

This Week in Missouri Politics column: Patterson Floor Leader/Election take aways

Floor Leader Patterson 

Rep. Jon Patterson of Lee’s Summit was elected House Floor Leader in a closely fought contest with Rep. Michael Haffner of Cass Coutny.

The race was very close and pitted Patterson with a coalition of younger legislators against a coalition of more senior members. Patterson did particularly well with incoming house freshmen, and is now the leader in the clubhouse to serve as Speaker after Rep. Dean Plocher is term limited.

The rest of next year’s house leadership team is as follows:

Speaker: Dean Plocher

Pro Tem: Mike Henderson

Floor Leader: Jon Patterson

Assistant Floor Leader: Jamie Burger 

Caucus Chair: Chris Dinkins

Whip: Hardy Billington

Election take aways

For the first time in over ten years house democrats had a legitimately good night picking up three seats. Lets look a few reasons that might have led to the pickups:

#1 House Minority Leader Crystal Quade and her team have put their heads down and did the work to build a functioning campaign arm out of literally nothing. You have to also credit labor for making significant financial contributions to that effort. In the end you credit the winners for doing the work and finally after a couple cycles of futility she is seeing some of the fruits of her labor.

#2  The republican caucus had expanded into districts that they had no right to be competitive in much less hold. When you elect 114 members you have to defend 114 districts, which must plainly easier than defending forty some districts. When finally for the first time since 2012 Missouri followed the national trend and made democrats competitive it took some of those seats that were honestly over reaches in the first place.

#3 Abortion. There are voters who had previously voted for republicans who flipped to the democrats over abortion. Now was it a tsunami, no. However, in some close races you have to point to the fact that those voters had been casting ballots for republicans and with a ever worsening economy and the same crime concerns there was really only one variable that could have legitimately moved some of those voters and that was abortion.

#4 The map. This map was designed by republicans to have a few more competitive seats in order to ensure a floor of around 105 republican seats. Where democrats chose to push the envelope to pick up more seats and put more of their members at risk. In a democratic year, the map did was it was logically going to do.

#5 It’s not lost on the returning members that the sitting Speaker Rob Vescovo kept over $600,000 without giving a dime to anyone in the caucus whose support is the only reason he was given in the money in the first place. How many of those races could have been saved with just a nominal amount of help from the man at the top of the food chain? However, three Reps. texted me since the results came in that they think he probably uses the money for groceries anyway so there was more pity than anger.

*While it was a tough night for republicans it shouldn’t be lost on anyone that they returned a super majority plus three extra seats, so don’t cry for the republicans. However, what we may have seen is the end of the democratic free fall in the state and that should help whoever takes the reins of the campaign arm from Quade in ’24 with recruiting and fundraising.

Lastly it should be noted that doors matter. Not hiring staff to do lit drops, but the candidate actually knocking on someone’s door and talking to them. Reps. Betsy Fogle and Ashley Aune are primary examples of that.

McCreery roars to a 9 point win

Rep. Tracy McCreery now Senator-elect Tracy McCreery absorbed an onslaught of a million dollars of negative ads to win a comfortable victory. Dr. George Hruza ran a spirited campaign and frankly made the race more competitive than it might otherwise have been, but the fact is she is very very good candidate and that very good candidate won a district that a democrat should have won. She just won it handily.

The biggest take away other than the quality of the candidate is that the St. Louis County Police Officers Association endorsed her and joined the Firefighters in being in ads and walking streets. In the suburbs nothing is more toxic than the defund the police issue, and this race proved that it’s pretty hard to paint someone as a Black Lives Matter activist when she is endorsed by the police.

Id figure any democrat who is looking to run in a competitive district is calling Matt Crecelius and Joe Patterson this week.

AG pick coming 

It appears that Governor Parson is looking to name his pick for Attorney General tomorrow morning before he heads out on his trade mission to Israel. He leaves around noon, so be on the lookout early.

I suspect, the same as if you read this column three months ago or listened to any of my radio appearances,  that it will be his General Counsel Andrew Bailey, we will see soon.