First off, the right-to-work referendum didn’t just fail; it went down in flames. voters nixed right-to-work by 67.5 percent to 32.5 percent. Unions rules, righties drool.
Right-to-work was an issue dearly beloved by departed Gov. Eric Greitens and the right-wing extremist stateÂ legislature, which passed a right-to-work law in February 2017. But unions gathered signatures and got a referendum on the ballot challenging the law, blocking it from going into effect. The referendum originally was going to be on the November ballot, but the legislature put it on the midterm ballot in hopes that a lower turnout would keep right to work alive.Â But the voters said no, big time, and the right-to-work law is now dead.
The legislature had said that they will next try to pass a constitutional amendment putting right-to-work in the state constitution, but that would have to be ratified by voters also. I wonder if they’ll bother now.
As expected, Sen. Clair McCaskill won her primary (by 82 percent of the vote) and will be challenged in November by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (who won by 58 percent of his vote, but he had more challengers).
The more interesting results were in St. Louis.Â Robert McCulloch, who had been St. Louis County prosecutor for 28 years, lost the Democratic primary to Wesley Bell, a Ferguson City Council member who ran on criminal justice reform. Bell will be unopposed in November, so this is effectively a general election win.
McColloch had earned noteriety for his “handling” of the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson in 2014. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
This was the first time McCulloch had faced a challenger since the Ferguson protests that erupted over the killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer in August 2014. Protesters criticized his office for its handling of the grand jury inquiry into the killing of Brown. The grand jury brought no charges against Officer Darren Wilson.
McCulloch, 67, of Kirkwood, faced challengers in just three prior primary and general races. …
… Political observers gave Bell little chance, saying that McCulloch’s 28 years in office and fundraising advantage made it nearly impossible for Bell to win.
“I’m in total disbelief,” St. Louis University political science professor Ken Warren said late Tuesday. Warren had predicted McCulloch would cruise to an eighth straight term, given his tenure.
“Obviously Ferguson defined this election,” Warren said. “Bell made his name through Ferguson, and (McCulloch) tarnished his name through his handling of Ferguson.”
And I’m pleased to say the vote wasn’t even that close; Bell won 56.6 percent to 43.4 percent.
There are plenty of people who are tired of McCulloch. Critics say his decision to conduct the investigation into Michael Brown’s fatal shooting using the grand jury was intentionally designed to produce a no-bill. McCulloch, 66, has also thrown the book at protesters, including those arrested as part of the recent demonstrations following the Jason Stockley “not guilty” verdict in St. Louis. Then there’s this: In his 27-year career in public office, McCulloch has never prosecuted an officer-involved shooting to the point of an actual indictment.
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger won a close primary challenge. This was an interesting race because the challenger, retired businessman Mark Mantovani, ran a slick and well-funded campaign in which he talked about jobs jobs jobs. Stenger’s ads tied Mantovani to Eric Greitens and Donald Trump; Stenger also framed himself as a defender of unions and an opponent of right-to-work. So an appeal to union support and flat-out partisanship carried the day.