Thursday, March 09, 2006

Mo and Kansas Dems are upbeat

St. Louis Today ( Post-Dispatch) on Missouri

Smelling the prospect of victory in this year's elections, Missouri Democrats used their annual Democrat Days as a platform to launch bare-knuckled jabs at the Republicans now in charge of the state and the country.

State Auditor Claire McCaskill announced Saturday that she firmly opposes a contract, backed by President George W. Bush's administration, that would allow state-owned Dubai Ports World to take over operations at six U.S. ports.

She said the Middle Eastern country of Dubai had too many troubling ties to terrorism. She then contrasted her stance - "I'm not questioning it, I'm opposed to it" - to that of the Republican she seeks to replace, U.S. Sen. Jim Talent.

McCaskill accused Talent of waffling on the subject because he has raised concerns but not taken a firm position.

McCaskill's campaign workers distributed posters that portray Talent as a "half-baked waffle," while various Democrats poked at Talent's decision to drop his support of a bill to outlaw embryonic stem-cell research.

State House Minority Leader Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, said the Republicans have two candidates running for the U.S. Senate: the Jim Talent who supports stem cell research and the Jim Talent who opposes it.

The Kansas scence from Steve Kraske, political correspondent for the Kansas City Star in the Wichita Eagle

The crowds. The enthusiasm. The hordes of young people. And to top it off, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, the rock star of the Democratic Party.

For Kansas Democrats gathered Friday in Topeka at their annual convention, the scene was like a blast out of the very distant past.

More than 1,100 party faithful squeezed into the Ramada Inn's biggest convention room, as 200 more watched on a TV nearby.

The last time Democrats gathered in numbers anywhere close was back in the early '80s, when Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., spoke in the state capital.

To be sure, the GOP remains the dominant party in Kansas. But internal strife has taken a toll. For the first time in years, the Democrats have the mojo.

"Maybe we're the cool party," mused longtime Democratic activist Glenn Staab of Hays.

For so many years, these Democratic Washington Days "celebrations" were desultory affairs. Democrats were like the losers you knew in high school. Republicans had the juice, the deep pockets and seemingly all the winners.

Now, it's different.

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