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Kurt Schaefer wins re-election to 19th District Missouri Senate seat

No Republican representing Columbia and Boone County has ever been re-elected to the Missouri Senate for a second term. Until now.

State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, defeated his challenger from the House, two-term state Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, by a 15.8 percent margin Tuesday.

“On an evening when Missourians have shown they are unbound by party, they have told us one thing unmistakably. They want us to pull together. And in my second term, I will be in the harness with the great Boone County delegation to make sure we get the things done we need to get done.”

Despite the wins for Schaefer and his new counterpart in the 44th District Missouri House seat, Republican Caleb Rowden, the mood was subdued as news came in that President Barack Obama had been re-elected.

988 words / The Columbia Missourian

Boone County Campaign Finance Reporting

A rare breed among American states, Missouri sets no limit to campaign finance contributions in political races. But all that money must be disclosed. So we tracked it.

In Fall 2012 elections, I led the Columbia Missourian’s government reporters in a coordinated effort to harvest and report the campaign finance earnings and expenditures reports of 33 candidates for 14 state and local races. I also helped coordinate efforts with other desks in the newsroom as we worked together to publish a complete set of graphics and a comprehensive online, searchable database of all contributions.

This was all set up for a night-turn project with well over 30 staffers on-deck. We produced and published all of the October quarterly reports the same night they were due to the Missouri Ethics Commission. Two weeks later, for the reports due eight days before the election, we prioritized the races and released the reports in batches.

While none of the reporting bears my name, this accomplishment is an important part of my portfolio because I took responsibility for developing its systems and execution.

Schaefer brings tenacity, ambition to second state Senate campaign

Kurt Schaefer doesn’t mind giving advice, but he’d rather be the one making decisions.

The incumbent 19th District senator learned this about himself after advising countless legislators and policy makers as a prosecutor in the Missouri Attorney General’s office.

“After a while, it could get frustrating to see them not taking our advice, especially on policy issues,” Schaefer said. In 2007, he decided to fix that. He’d try to make the laws himself.

Schaefer, a Republican, ran for state Senate in 2008 and beat the incumbent Democrat, Chuck Graham, whose favorability sank after his drunken driving arrest the previous October.

Now Schaefer, who has become chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is running for re-election against Democrat Mary Still, a two-term 25th District representative in the Missouri House.

It is rare for a Republican to represent the Senate district that includes Columbia, which politically leans to the left. Schaefer, who won by fewer than 400 votes in 2008, was the first Republican to take the district since at least 1979. If he wins in November, it would be the first time a Republican would serve two terms in the 19th District seat, he said.

1962 words / The Columbia Missourian

Fearlessness drives Mary Still’s campaign for 19th District Senate seat

Mary Still is not afraid to lose.

“If I were afraid to lose, I would not have run in this race,” Still said last week.

The two-term 25th District state representative from Columbia opens the door of her paned-glass sunroom to let in a little stormy afternoon breeze. Still, a Democrat, is well aware of the odds she faces in her bid to unseat Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, in the 19th District.

Schaefer’s campaign finance war chest outweighs Still’s by a factor of almost 4 to 1. As one of 34 senators, his name recognition also outpaces that of Still, who is one of 163 representatives of the Missouri House. And her opponent’s chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful roles in the General Assembly, makes him all the more formidable.

But Still is not easily intimidated. And she is determined to have a Democrat represent Columbia in the Missouri Senate.

“I can better reflect the values of this community,” she said in a soft Arkansas drawl.

Campaign staffers, friends and volunteers are stationed in her spacious, light-filled kitchen. They work with their laptops here, or from desks at Still’s memorabilia-strewn campaign headquarters on Old Route 63 or walking door-to-door in neighborhoods around Columbia and Boone and Cooper counties.

This is Still’s third campaign for a seat in the legislature, and it’s clear this isn’t her first rodeo.

2085 words / The Columbia Missourian

State Senate candidates engage in spirited debate

Candidates for one of the state’s most-watched Senate races square off in a forum hosted at the University of Missouri. This article was notable in the publication’s website analytics for the amount of time people were spending on the page — four minutes, on average, and up to seven minutes for viewers from a particular referring website.

752 words / The Columbia Missourian

Insurance bill triggers contraception debate

Earlier this year, Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill that would modify state laws regarding abortion, contraception and sterilization. On Wednesday, members of the Missouri General Assembly will meet for their annual veto session and are expected to try to override Nixon. There’s a good chance they’ll succeed.

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Missouri legislature to consider at least two bills vetoed by Gov. Nixon

Article previewing state legislature’s upcoming veto session / 494 words / The Columbia Missourian

Missouri lawmakers have one last chance to make law from legislation that Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed earlier this year. The General Assembly’s annual veto session is scheduled for Sept. 12.

States’ rights, religious freedom and women’s health will converge to drive the debate over Senate Bill 749. Arguments about business competitiveness and accusations of retroactive taxation promise to see House Bill 1329 buffeted back and forth across the proverbial aisle.

Rep. Mike Talboy, D-Kansas City, who is minority floor leader in the House, said he anticipates the vote on SB 749 to be tense. Still, he thinks there’s a good chance the legislature will override the governor’s veto and pass the bill.

“I would anticipate that one is going to be the most difficult to sustain the governor’s veto,” Talboy said. “It’s probably the most fueled and emotional type of bill that we’re going to see in veto session.”

In the Senate, Majority Leader and SB 749 co-sponsor Tom Dempsey, R-St. Peters, also thinks an override of the veto is probable. He is less certain about HB 1329. There have been instances, he said, when votes for a bill during the regular session did not translate to override votes during the veto session.

“If they had a desire to support their governor, then the House would not have the votes to override that bill,” he said.

Columbia City Council to cast final vote on ward reapportionment Monday

Preview of city council vote on local redistricting plans / 776 words / The Columbian Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — City Council members remain in suspense about the outcome of their own vote scheduled for Monday. That’s when Columbia’s months-long discussion of ward reapportionment is scheduled to come to a close with a final vote.

The impact of that vote, however, will resonate long after next week. The new ward maps chosen Monday will determine the city’s voting districts for roughly 10 years. The city has redrawn its maps about every decade since 1973 to keep ward representation numerically equal according to the latest census numbers.

“I think it’s going to be very close, extremely contentious and a very long council meeting,” said Fifth Ward Councilwoman Helen Anthony.

The council’s conversation will be held against the backdrop of a petition started this week to recall Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley from his post. The initiative was spurred by opposition to Dudley’s most recent proposal for ward reapportionment.

Dudley went out of his way to advocate for the map known as Trial D, which maintains a central city ward. His most vocal opponents favor Trial E, which extends the First Ward (currently the central city ward) to the west.

Dudley’s opponents have charged that he selected neighborhoods to move from the Third and Fourth wards into the First, purposefully relocating those in which he and Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespolh fared worst in the last election.

Dudley denied the charge at a meeting on Oct. 7. He did not respond to repeated calls for comment for this article.

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