Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Democrats Challenge GOP on Various Issues at Missouri's Jefferson- Jackson Dinner

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Democrats Challenge GOP on Various Issues at Missouri's Jefferson- Jackson Dinner

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * Sounding unmistakably like a candidate for governor, Democratic Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster took Republican legislators to task Saturday on a range of issues including Medicaid expansion, the minimum wage and gay rights.

"Missourians should never be denied a place to live or a job simply because they are gay," Koster told about 500 attendees at the Missouri Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

The keynote speaker, U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., meanwhile, gave a full-throated defense of the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"What this president did was to challenge America to pick up an issue started by none other than Harry Truman," Durbin said in reference to President Barack Obama's signature health care law. That law remains under fire from Republicans nationwide and has seen some Democrats back away from it.

"I'm not backing off, I'm not apologizing," Durbin said. "I am proud of that vote for the Affordable Care Act."

The event, at the Renaissance Grand Hotel in downtown St. Louis, also bestowed a lifetime achievement award to former U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan, D-Mo.

"I believe it was Mark Twain who said it's good to be remembered and even better to be remembered well," Carnahan told the gathering.

Though the state's next gubernatorial election isn't until 2016, Koster has so far cleared the field of any challenges from his own party with his early confirmation that he's running.

He was introduced at Saturday's event by state Democratic Party Chairman Roy Temple as "the next governor of Missouri" a notable endorsement at an official party function, since any Democratic primary challengers still have about two years to jump in.

Koster, who has been in the news lately for suggesting Missouri could sidestep controversy over the source of its execution drugs by making its own, didn't mention that issue at all in his speech. …

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