Maneuvering to undo Clean Missouri reforms has begun

Chris Satullo| November 27th, 2018

Missouri State Sen. Dave Schatz | Image Credit: The Missouri Times

Missouri lawmakers are already making noises about trying to overturn the will of the voters who overwhelming approved the Clean Missouri reform package at the polls.

Check out this report from St. Louis Public Radio.   The part we care about is a few screens down, under the subhead: Protecting ballot initiatives

Note that members of the Missouri legislature have begun harrumphing about maybe revising the package of government reforms, including a redistricting measure that 62 percent of Missouri voters backed in November.

In this case, it's the Republican leaders of the Missouri House and Senate who are indicating reluctance to comply with the will of the people. Given that, we'd like to point out something about that referendum result.

In that same mid-term election, Republican Todd Hawley won a smashing victory in the U.S. Senate race, trouncing Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill by 6 percentage points.

Unless you believe that most Hawley voters somehow missed or chose not to vote on the hotly debated Clean Missouri ballot question, it stands to reason that a whole bunch of rank-and-file Republicans in Missouri saw a lot to like in this ambitious package of reforms.   

More evidence that redistricting is not primarily a red vs. blue issue.  It's about a small group of politicians and insiders clinging to power at the expense of all the rest of us.

Clean Missouri curbs lobbyist spending, puts new limits on campaign donations and creates a new redistricting process that seeks to rein in partisan influence on the drawing of election districts.  That this package won such a resounding bispartisan endorsement was one of the most exciting outcomes of the midterms.

But the champagne bottles had barely been put in the recycling bin when, as Tony Messenger, metro columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, a new group with the Orwellian name of Fair Missouri incorporated and began raising money, with an eye to pushing a new ballot initiative that would undo some of Clean Missouri's provisions.

Also, as oped columnist for the New York Times David Leonhardt pointed out in his daily newsletter on Tuesday, some in the state GOP are sending signals that they might try to revive an ancient pro-gerrymandering coalition that's been seen in a lot of states: rural white Republicans linking arms with urban African-American lawmakers. It's happened in the past: Some lawmakers have been known to sign off on a gerrymandered map that hurt their party overall as long as it made their own seats safe.  One place it happened was Philadelphia in 2011.

This is all very depressing and an insult to the voters of Missouri.  Please, Show Me State politicians, try to show a little more respect for the will of the people.