Missouri, the Heart of the Nation

By William E. Parrish; Charles T. Jones Jr. et al. | Go to book overview

NINETEEN
Missouri During the 1980s

Overview of Politics in the 1980s

Missouri's politics during the 1980s reflected national trends, just as it had in the past. At the executive level each election provided evidence of greater Republican strength. By 1990 only one Democrat served in a statewide office, and Republican John D. Ashcroft had been governor for six years. Even the office of secretary of state, so long held by Democrat James C. Kirkpatrick of Windsor, had become the possession of Republican Roy Blunt of Greene County. In 1990 Republicans John C. Danforth and Christopher S. Bond represented Missouri in the U.S. Senate, while Republicans at one point during the decade held four of Missouri's nine seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The pattern of two strong political parties vying against each other continued, but by the end of the 1980s Republican strength seemed to be almost unchallengeable at the statewide level.

Meanwhile in the General Assembly the Democratic Party continued to exercise control. In the 34-member Missouri senate, Democrats always held a majority of at least 21 to 13 during the 1980s. In the 163-member house of representatives, while the Democrats often lost seats, the party never fell below a majority of 104 to 59. Predictably the division between the Republican-controlled executive branch and the Democratic-controlled legislature sometimes led to a government with little ability to address pressing state problems. The Hancock Amendment placed a further obstacle in the road to change.

Named after Springfield business executive Melton D. Hancock, the amendment became law through the initiative process in 1980. Passing by a vote of 1,002,935 to 807,187 on November 4, it essentially required a vote of the people to increase state or local taxes or

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