Each candidate for the Missouri 1st District Senate seat is
hoping the area's mixed makeup could prove to be a disadvantage for
State Rep. Scott Sifton, D-Affton, says incumbent Sen. Jim Lembke
is too conservative for the more northern parts of the district,
while Lembke, R-Lemay, says he thinks Sifton will alienate anti-
abortion voters in the south.
The Senate race has become one of the more interesting
legislative battles this year, because of new district boundaries
and the competitive campaigns.
Homes in the area have been peppered with fliers and cards from
Lembke is the incumbent in the race, but the terrain has changed
from what he faced four years ago.
Thanks to legislative redistricting, the 1st District -
previously centered in conservative south St. Louis County - now
stretches north to Webster Groves and Maplewood. About 40 percent of
the district is new, and much of the added area has tended to favor
The shift has created a diverse group of constituents - ardent
liberals, staunch conservatives, older voters and immigrants new to
the area. The district covers blue-collar homes, as well as affluent
"It's just a very interesting district," Sifton said. "It really
is a microcosm of the St. Louis region with very diverse viewpoints.
I think that's good."
Both he and Lembke have been trying to strike the right balance
to attract a broad base.
"I want to talk to all of the voters," Lembke said.
While canvassing a Webster Groves neighborhood recently, several
homeowners assured Sifton: "You're the Democrat, I'm voting for
At one home, Sifton - a former Affton School Board member serving
his first term in the state House - touted efforts to keep taxes low
in the district.
"That's good, but it's not the most important thing," the
homeowner replied before telling Sifton that education is important
enough to justify a tax increase if needed.
Lembke has pledged never to support a tax hike, but he said he
has also run into people who wouldn't oppose increases.
"They said, 'Raise my taxes,'" Lembke said of some opinions in
new parts of his district. "It was the first time I had ever heard
that while campaigning."
Lembke is finishing his first term in the Legislature's upper
chamber and will be term-limited if he wins his re-election bid on
Nov. 6. He frequently mentions that to voters as he's campaigning
door-to-door - a sort-of guarantee that he won't overstay his
With his frequent blunt remarks and propensity to verbally spar
on the Senate floor, the conservative Republican from south St.
Louis County has built a name for himself in Jefferson City over the
past 10 years. In his district he says he has more than 80 percent
name recognition, and residents often recognize him when he comes to
Looking to shift favor from the incumbent, the lesser-known
Sifton has criticized Lembke for taking gifts from lobbyists while
serving as a lawmaker.
"Is he there to make policy or is he there to help Jim Lembke?"
Sifton said he would move to prohibit lawmakers from accepting
such gifts if elected.
State lobbying records show Lembke accepted more than $7,300 in
lobbyist-reported gifts last year. Among them were several meals at
the Jefferson City Country Club, golf fees and cigars. As of August -
the most recent data available, Lembke has accepted more than $1,300
in gifts this year, including four bottles of wine totaling $63.86.
"We're talking about filet mignon at the country club," Sifton