There are two main issues in Missouri in these elections. One is an interesting amendment to the state constitution to secure individual religious liberties. Amendment 2 is also known as the "right to pray" bill and is about securing the right to practice religious beliefs in public places, specifically schools and government meetings. A pro-argument can be read here, and an against argument can be read here. What I find most interesting is the details, where the devil resides. The language presented in front of voters is a three sentence summary of the proposed amendment. The actual written version is much more specific, and has some things which paradoxically at best protect rights that are already protected and at worst force religion on people and disrupt school curriculums. There have even been court cases to try to change the wording of the amendment, and even some speculation that the Missouri legislature is trying to pull a fast one on Missourians by putting this on the primary election where there will be poor turnout (expected to be about 25% of registered voters at best).
But by far the most important decision of the Missouri primaries is the Republican nomination of the Senate race against incumbent Claire McCaskill (D). The Republican primary is essentially a three way race betweenRep. Todd Akin, businessman newcomer John Brunner, and former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman.
Todd Akin is basically a conservative Republican and has been serving as a U.S. representative for the largely populated St Louis suburbs. He is pro-gun rights, outspoken against abortion and stem cell research, and supposedly against increased taxation and spending. He sits on several committees associated with defense, and science and technology.
John Brunner, in my opinion is not too much unlike Mitt Romney, other than he doesn’t have political experience. It shows in the debates, but Missourians are generally supporting him because he seems to have a good record in business and everyone wants the economy to get better.
Sarah Steelman, who I will be voting for, has been in Missouri politics for a while, notably losing the Republican nomination for governor back in 2008. She came across as a very educated woman, and slight Tea Party tendencies even back then. Now she has tried to play more into Tea Party hands, which parts of Missouri will respond to. Additionally she is able to articulate her arguments very well, (her explanation of how corn subsidies and ethanol subsidies should be eliminated was very well thought out and scientific, which I find amazing because Missouri grows some corn in key rural areas which are heavily republican).
Their impending November opponent, Claire McCaskill, has been at the side of our President Barack Obama since his days as a senator from Illinois, and has been one of his strongest supporters since. She has heavily supported the president in health care and stimulus spending, which are easy targets for her November opponent. In my opinion she really hasn’t flip-flopped on too many issues and is generally a better politician than most. She will be tough to unseat, but general public unrest and a poor economy will also be running against her.
The November election for this Senate race will undoubtedly help decide control of the Senate, and if Steelman wins she will certainly side with many of the Tea Partiers, which is growing stronger and more vocal. Todd Akin will certainly give McCaskill good competition as well, as he has significant backing from the GOP national party. Although if it is worth anything to you, Steelman has backing from Sarah Palin.
So far the primaries haven’t drawn much interest amongst my friends, but Amendment 2 to the state constitution should draw some in.