St. Louis County Races Could Be Key as Republicans Try to Hold Veto-Proof Majority in Missouri House

By Suntrup, Jack | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), August 27, 2018 | Go to article overview

St. Louis County Races Could Be Key as Republicans Try to Hold Veto-Proof Majority in Missouri House


Suntrup, Jack, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


JEFFERSON CITY - Three Missouri House districts in St. Louis County are among Democratic targets this fall as the party tries to trim the GOP's supermajority in the Legislature.

The contested turf includes two districts encompassing the Oakville and Mehlville areas of south St. Louis County, and a Maryland Heights-based district along the Missouri River.

The 70th, 94th and 95th districts are "perhaps our three best (pickup opportunities) in the St. Louis area," said Rep. Peter Merideth, a St. Louis Democrat who heads the party's House Victory Committee.

Republicans control 111 seats in the House, though there are five vacancies in previously GOP-held seats. To take Republicans below a 109-vote, veto-proof majority, Democrats must net eight seats this fall.

In the 94th District, which includes Jefferson Barracks and much of the area surrounding the Interstate 55/Interstate 270 interchange, Democrat Jean Pretto is challenging Republican Jim Murphy for the seat that had been held by GOP state Rep. Cloria Brown, who died in March.

Pretto has raised $23,066 and has $3,983 on hand, according to her most recent fundraising figures. Murphy has raised $24,194 and has $5,464 on hand, according to his latest fundraising numbers.

Democrats won the seat in 2008 and 2012, while the Republican won in 2010, 2014 and 2016.

"I'm certain that will be a very, very heavy focus for the Democrats," said Casey Wheat, executive director of the House Republican Campaign Committee. "We had gone back and forth with that seat for years."

Pretto, 67, a retired music teacher and car dealership manager, is a member of the Mehlville School Board, and said "education is big on my list." She said opposing charter schools and anti-union legislation were two of her motivations.

"Charter schools would be a drain on the resources that would typically go to the public school system," Pretto said, adding that Brown, the former representative, voted for "right to work," which "really rubbed me the wrong way."

Murphy, 67, the Republican, said he would not back attempts by his party to push right to work, saying voters -- two-thirds of whom shot down the law this month -- had already made their voices known.

"If you're going to call yourself a representative and push that again, you're not much of a representative," said Murphy, who owns a custom embroidery business.

"I've got a business background and that's important to this state right now," Murphy said, adding that "how we're going to save our shopping centers" in a changing retail environment would be a focus. …

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