The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 4, 2012

Susan Redden: Region attracts eleventh-hour campaigners

By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — Members of the Republican state ticket weren’t the only ones making eleventh-hour campaign stops last week in the region.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, also made a campaign stop, followed by a group working against McCaskill’s re-election.

Riding on a bus emblazoned with Dave Spence’s picture, those on “Missouri’s Comeback Team bus tour” included Spence, GOP candidate for governor; Ed Martin, candidate for attorney general; Shane Schoeller, for secretary of state; Cole McNary, for state treasurer; and Billy Long, running for re-election to the U.S. House from Missouri’s 7th District.

In an appearance at Joplin area campaign headquarters, they praised the GOP ticket and urged supporters to get out the vote in the predominantly Republican area.

An observer at the gathering was Isaac Wright, Missouri Democratic Party spokesman, who followed along at several stops to offer his party’s perspective.

Wright particularly criticized Spence for his role as a director of a St. Louis bank that took $40 million in federal stimulus funds. Wright said Spence voted not to repay the taxpayer funds received by the bank, which he said raised questions about whether Spence could be a fiscally responsible governor.

Spence, who was president of Alpha Packaging and a director of Reliance Bank, said he and other directors voted to delay repaying the money at the advice of federal regulators.

Most members of the Republican ticket, along with U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, returned to the region on Saturday for the annual ham and bean feed sponsored by the Newton County Republican Central Committee.

In a stop at Democratic headquarters in Joplin, McCaskill contrasted her positions with those of Republican challenger Todd Akin. She cited Akin’s opposition to Medicare, the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work and the federally funded school lunch program.

About two hours after McCaskill’s appearance in Joplin, a group stopped in town as part of an effort to unseat the Democratic senator.

A bus tour sponsored by the Faith, Family and Freedom Fund, a super PAC associated with the Family Research Council, stopped in Joplin to argue that McCaskill supports policies that hurt Missouri families.

Speakers were Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; former U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, of the Susan B. Anthony List; and Stephen Broden, pastor of Fair Park Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas. After a rally by the group, members were guest speakers at a meeting of the Southwest Missouri Conservative Network in Joplin.

Founded by James Dobson, the Family Research Council describes itself as “a Christian organization that promotes the traditional family unit and the Judeo-Christian values system.” Critics charge that the primary goals of the group are to oppose reproductive freedom, sex education, and equal rights for gays and lesbians.

Ashcroft backing Akin

John Ashcroft, former Missouri governor, U.S. senator and U.S. attorney general, was among the legions of Republican leaders who demanded that Akin get off the ballot after the candidate’s “legitimate rape” comment caused a national outcry.

Now Ashcroft, joined by his wife, Janet, is robo-calling on behalf of Akin’s Senate campaign.

No violation

The Globe received a call last week concerning an allegation that Randee Kaiser, Republican candidate for Jasper County sheriff, violated the school bus stop arm law several months ago.

Carthage police did receive a complaint in mid-May, according to Greg Dagnan, Carthage police chief. He said the matter was handed off to a special prosecutor to avoid a conflict of interest; Kaiser is assistant chief of the Carthage department.

He said the information collected and submitted to the special prosecutor included a statement from a Carthage school bus driver and a recording from a video camera on the bus. Had the prosecutor determined that there was a violation, a city charge would have been filed, Dagnan said.

He said the special prosecutor determined that there was no violation.

SUSAN REDDEN is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at sredden@joplinglobe.com or 417-623-3480, ext. 7258. Follow her on Twitter @Susan_Redden.