Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nixon Sees Desegregation as Opportunity to Help Himself

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nixon Sees Desegregation as Opportunity to Help Himself

Article excerpt

WHEN Bill Clinton first sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1992, opponent Paul Tsongas had a nickname for him: "Pander Bear."

Tsongas called Clinton that because he believed the then-governor of Arkansas would say or do anything - whether he believed it or not - to pander to voters.

Missouri now has its own Pander Bear, and his name is Jay Nixon, the state's attorney general. Nixon is blatantly going after voters by crusading against school desegregation. It's nothing new in this state, of course. Republicans have been riding that old horse to victory in Missouri for years. As attorney general, it ultimately helped John Ashcroft get to Washington. Now Nixon, a Democrat who'd love to unseat incumbent Sen. Christopher Bond, hopes to ride that same horse to the nation's capital. For some time, Nixon has been pushing to end desegregation. Last week, Nixon ignored the instructions of a federal judge to keep desegregation negotiations private by publicly presenting his own set tlement proposal. Nixon became Missouri's own Johnnie Cochran by trying to influence the public in a decision that is to be settled in the courts. Politically, Nixon may feel that he's between a rock and a hard place and that his proposal may give him some breathing room. The anti-school-desegregation issue has been a winner for some Missouri politicians. Those politicians have been Republicans, who traditionally don't garner many black votes. But Nixon, like most Democrats here, needs black votes to add to his total if he hopes to defeat Bond. His stance has caused controversy among some black voters, and some black politicians haven't given him the support that he'll need in next year's election. So, perhaps to win their support, Nixon outlined his proposal last week in front of Vashon High School, a dilapidated excuse for a school off of North Grand Boulevard. The all-black school has been a disgrace, and many have sought to replace it with a new Vashon. So Nixon's offering a carrot. His plan includes providing the $44 million to build 14 new city schools, including a new Vashon. In total, he wants to spend $304 million of state funds to buy the state's way out of school desegregation. …

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