Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Donkey got the fragmented post-primary blues

I called Jeff Harris, who came in last in the three-way Democratic primary for attorney general, to ask about healing the party after a former Republican (Chris Koster) narrowly won the primary election (according to the unofficial count).

Harris' answer, more or less, was, "What party?"

What he actually said was: "Since the election, I've tried to stick around the house. I've not watched the news. Other than the Unity rally in Kansas City, I've just tried to take a step back and stick here around the house. I've got an infant daughter. I've not thought much about politics at all."

Harris is the former Democratic leader in the House who fought Koster bitterly when Koster was a Matt Blunt Republican in the state Senate. Harris ran a bitterly negative campaign against Koster that clearly didn't pay off. Harris' primary supporters are thought to be the most stalwart of Missouri Democrats who are not about to get behind Koster.

"To the people who backed Harris, a vote for Koster would be a vote for a Republican," said a union activist who worked to elect Margaret Donnelly, who came in a very close second to Koster. "For those guys, whether it's Koster or Mike Gibbons, you're getting a Republican either way."

That's an attitude that Missouri Democrats need to quench, and soon, unless they want to see Jay Nixon hand the keys to the AG office to someone who is still officially a Republican (that would be Gibbons).

I couldn't bait Harris to say anything towards rallying the troops.

He said, with Donnelly entitled to a recount, it would be "premature" to rally support for Koster.

Donnelly, who received our endorsement at The St. Louis American, told me yesterday that she still just didn't know what she was going to do about the potential recount.

Ryan Hobart in Secretary of State Robin Carnahan's office reminded me she has until August 26 to certify the election results, and anyone who lost by 1 percent of the vote or less would have seven days after the results were certified to ask for a recount.

Rodney Hubbard - another divisive Democrat, given his close relationships among Jeff. City Republicans - is also entitled to a recount, since he lost so closely to Robin Wright-Jones in the 5th Senatorial District, according to unofficial results. He is likely to ask for it.

I asked Kevin Belford to sum up this fragmented post-primary state of Missouri Democrats, and the above illustration was what he came up with. It will run alongside our editorial on the same theme in tomorrow's paper. Demoralized Democrats would not bode well for Barack Obama in Missouri. Let's hope - and expect - Jeff Harris and others to snap out of it.

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