Rep. Russ Carnahan has all but agreed to avoid a primary fight against Rep. Lacy Clay if, as expected, the two Democrats are drawn into the same district by the Missouri legislature.
But for detente to occur, there had to be hostilities.
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Two weeks ago, a frustrated Carnahan approached Clay on the House floor. Carnahan had been hoping to get Clay and fellow Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleave to pressure Gov. Jay Nixon to veto a Republican remapping of the state’s congressional districts. Not only had Clay and Cleaver declined to help, they had stopped taking Carnahan’s calls on the matter.
“[F—-] you,” Carnahan said, according to a source who heard the obscenity. Then, with sarcasm, he added “Thanks for your help.”
It’s easy to see why Clay and Cleaver aren’t rushing to fall on their swords for Carnahan. The maps under discussion would strengthen Cleaver in his Kansas City-based district, and the new district that would be drawn from the current seats of Clay and Carnahan, who is white, would have a heavily African-American electorate. All of that, of course, is dependent upon the Missouri Senate and House coming to agreement on a plan — a big “if,” given that the Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation converged on Jefferson City on Monday to try to help hash out a deal between the warring chambers.
Carnahan’s best hope — and the fear of everyone else in the Missouri delegation — is that the heavily Republican Legislature will deadlock and an appellate court will draw the lines.
For Democrats, the bad blood runs deeper than the hot-tempered floor exchange. Given Carnahan’s flirtation with a primary run against Clay, some black Democrats were furious when party leaders put Carnahan on a list of targeted incumbents who are given extra campaign help. But, after a meeting of the Missouri Democrats with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), most folks are convinced Carnahan won’t run a kamikaze mission against Clay. Instead, one insider told POLITICO, Democratic leaders want Carnahan to run in a Republican-tilting district next door.
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