McCaskill considers challenge

Volunteers campaign as the auditor contemplates running against Holden.
Friday, October 10, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:10 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

State Auditor Claire McCaskill has yet to announce whether she will challenge Gov. Bob Holden in the Democratic primary next August, but members of Citizens Supporting McCaskill for Governor don’t want to take any chances.

The Springfield-based group, which is independent of the official Friends of McCaskill committee, uses a Web site and hot lines to organize volunteers and raise money. It has distributed around 200 pink-and-black signs across the state with the slogan “McCaskill for Governor.”

One of the group’s volunteers, Marvalene Pankey, came to Columbia on Oct. 1 and knocked on doors around the busy intersection of Providence Road and Worley Street to find people willing to put signs in their yards.

“Only one person said no, and they were a renter,” Pankey said.

Gladys Young was among those who took a sign. “I will probably support (McCaskill),” Young said. She added, however, that she wants to hear the auditor’s stances on the issues before deciding for sure.

Marita Hatton also took a sign, although she said she hasn’t committed to McCaskill yet. “Anyone that helps with the economy is a good thing,” she said. “If they care about the community, that’s important — we need that.”

Debbie Montgomery is a volunteer from Hartsburg who also handed out signs in Columbia for Citizens Supporting McCaskill.

“The point,” she said, “is to get people to talk about options and to at least engage Gov. Holden in some of the issues.”

Holden has faced criticism, both from his own party and from Republicans, from the first day of his administration. It began the night of his $1 million inauguration festivities and has continued through the present. Just last month, three of Holden’s vetoes were overridden by the state legislature. Anheuser-Busch has also withdrawn its support from Gov. Holden, opting to give money to McCaskill instead.

Traditionally, candidates in competitive state primaries have a difficult time winning office because they deplete their resources trying to win the nomination. Even so, Missouri Republican Party spokesman Paul Sloca declined to say the GOP wants McCaskill to challenge Holden.

“We don’t get involved in Democratic Party politics,” Sloca said. “What goes on in their primary is their concern.”

McCaskill spokesman Glenn Campbell said the public could expect the auditor’s decision the week of Oct. 20.

“She always said she would let the public know when the leaves turned,” Campbell said.

He acknowledged McCaskill has spent the past couple of months with a campaign team exploring the idea of running for governor.

One person eager to hear McCaskill’s decision is Steven Reed, head of Citizens Supporting McCaskill. He has spent much of his free time and a lot of his own money on drafting McCaskill into the race.

“We ran a campaign on a lot of air,” Reed said. “But we’re drawing in more of the public, not just political junkies and committee people.”

Reed hopes to keep those people interested with library meetings and other gatherings where residents can talk about the issues during the campaign.

Citizens Supporting McCaskill has registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission as a continuing committee, which has no limit on the amount of money people can contribute. Reed hopes supporters will donate money for radio and television commercials.

“We’re going to keep going,” Reed said. “We hope to have a continuing campaign.”

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