Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 20, 2014

Missouri: William Lacy Clay Shellacs Russ Carnahan in St. Louis-Area Democratic Primary

Missouri: William Lacy Clay Shellacs Russ Carnahan in St. Louis Area Democratic Primary

Rep. William Lacy Clay steamrolled over a fellow Democratic Member in today's primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

You can’t say Rep. William Lacy Clay (D) isn’t a man of his word.

In May 2011, after redistricting put him and fellow Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan in the same urban St. Louis district, Clay was direct when asked about the potential primary: “I will run, and I will win decisively,” he promised at the time.

Today, Clay beat Carnahan in the Democratic primary, and his win was indeed decisive. With 60 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race for Clay, who had 65 percent of the vote. Carnahan only had 35 percent.

Carnahan, a four-term Congressman and son of the late Gov. Mel Carnahan (D), never really had a clear shot at winning the newly configured seat, which only included about one-third of his constituents. Carnahan, who is white, also faced tricky racial dynamics running in a majority-minority district against Clay, who is black.

After Carnahan’s current district was essentially eliminated in the Republican-led redraw, he could have run in the newly configured open 2nd district against a Republican. The Washington, D.C., Democratic establishment, led by Steve Israel (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, encouraged him to do just that.

But Carnahan decided to run in the 1st district, which his home was drawn into. The result was a quixotic bid against a fellow Democrat and the son of a former Congressman who represented the St. Louis area for decades.

Carnahan was first elected to Congress in 2004 in the seat left open by the retirement of Rep. Dick Gephardt (D). He won in a nine-way Democratic primary and then went on to win in the general election. In 2010, Republican Ed Martin almost beat Carnahan, who only pulled 49 percent of the vote.

  • jgyboh@lycos.com

    Carnahan ought to have left the political stage – or at the very least taken a short leave of absence from the scene. There IS life aside from and after elective politics, after all!

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