Graham announces plan to run for Democratic floor leader

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 | 9:10 p.m. CDT; updated 11:01 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 3, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY — Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, confirmed he plans to run for Democratic floor leader if he wins his re-election campaign.

If Graham wins the race, his likely opponent would be one of the Senate's most conservative Democrats — Sen. Victor Callahan, D-Jackson County. The winner will serve as the face of the caucus.

Callahan is a conservative Democrat who voted for last year's bill to toughen regulation of abortion facilities and voiced support for gun rights.

Current Democratic Floor Leader Sen. Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis, voiced support for Callahan.

"What Senator Callahan brings to the Democratic Party is exactly what we're all about: people who are pro-choice and pro-life, people who are against guns and for guns," Coleman said.

Coleman described Callahan as "colorful" and one of the smartest, most analytical Missouri Democratic senators.

When asked about Graham, Coleman burst into laughter but would not comment on Graham's candidacy.

Coleman has reached the limit on her term as a Missouri senator.

"With all due respect to Maida, she won't be a member of the caucus, so she won't have a vote," Graham said.

Graham had his own defense.

"I've been the No. 2 leader for the last four years," he said. "I think I've earned the respect of my colleagues."

There is still a chance for others to declare their interest in the position.

"You never know who's going to be the new leader until there's an actual vote taken," Coleman said.


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