While I think U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt of St. Louis will be one of the finalists in the race to be the Democratic presidential nominee, he's been getting mixed signals over the last couple of weeks.
In Iowa, where a number of candidates have declined to run, Gephardt has pulled slightly ahead of Howard Dean.
In New Hampshire (the second primary), the race has become a two-man contest between Dean at 38 percent and U.S. Sen. John Kerry at 24 percent. Others in the nine-candidate field remained in single digits last week. Clark, Edwards and Lieberman were at 4 percent, and Gephardt had 3 percent. Kucinich, Braun and Sharpton registered 1 percent or less.
While Gephardt has been endorsed by most of the labor unions, last week SEIU (the nations largest and most politically active union in Missouri) endorsed Dean. (I don't know if the St. Louis SEIU position is different).
Missouri primary races in both parties will generate quite a bit of interest, with the heaviest public scrutiny being on the Democratic Party primary races.
Along with the endorsements by the Kansas City mayor. Jackson County supervisor and most current party workers, Gov. Bob Holden was recently endorsed by former U.S. senator Tom Eagleton and former governor Warren Hearnes. Their endorsements have joined former U.S. senator Jean Carnahan, most of the labor unions and trial lawyers (although State Auditor Claire McCaskill will have some strength here) for Holden.
McCaskill has finally announced publicly she will oppose Holden in the Democratic primary for governor next year with the endorsement of popular former lieutenant governor and interim governor Roger Wilson. She has encouraging polls, adequate financing available and a warm relationship with much of the Missouri press.
McCaskill has the task of establishing herself as the stronger Democrat candidate in the 2004 November contest, now less than one year away, against the apparent Republican candidate, Secretary of State Matt Blunt.
She has to do this while not burning any future bridges. It's a free run because the auditor's office is not on the ballot next year.
Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder of Cape Girardeau has lesser opposition in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor against former state representative Pat Seacrest. The Democrat candidate will either be Bekki Cook, former secretary of state (also from Cape Girardeau) or Senate Minority Leader Ken Jacobs from Columbia. These two Democratic candidates will be well-financed and will try not to be drawn into the Holden-McCaskill race.
Kinder recently had the biggest single fund raiser in the history of Cape Girardeau, raising over $150,000 at one event. He also has strong statewide support.
The vacated offices of secretary of state (Blunt's running for governor) and state treasurer (Nancy Farmer has filed as the Democratic Party candidate opposing U.S. Sen. Kit Bond) are anticipated to have a number of strong candidates from both parties. Term-limited House and Senate members are being joined by the unannounced but anticipated candidacies of House Speaker Catherine Hanaway for secretary of state and State Sen. Sarah Steelman for treasurer or secretary of state.
Attorney General Jay NIxon is watching, as the Republicans are having as much trouble finding a candidate to run against him -- just as the Democrats did in finding a candidate to run against Bond (who's been making friends by spreading money around the state like fairy dust this year).
Farmer will have strong financial support in her Senate race against Bond, because Missouri is a toss-up state. With 2004 being a presidential election year, Missourians will get their fair share of targeted political rhetoric and attention.
Time gets better with age: I learned that I like my teacher because she cries when we sing "Silent Night."
Age 5: I learned that our dog doesn't want to eat my broccoli either.
Age 7: I learned that when I wave to people in the country, they stop what they are doing and wave back.
Age 9: I learned that just when I get my room the way I like it, Mom makes me clean it up again.
Age 12: I learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering someone else up.
Age 14: I learned that although it's hard to admit it, I'm secretly glad my parents are strict with me.
Age 15: I learned that silent company is often more healing than words of advice.
Age 24: I learned that brushing my child's hair is one of life's great pleasures.
Age 26: I learned that wherever I go, the world's worst drivers have followed me there.
Age 29: I learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it.
Age 30: I learned that there are people who love you dearly but just don't know how to show it.
Age 42: I learned that you can make some one's day by simply sending them a little note.
Age 44: I learned that the greater a person's sense of guilt, the greater his or her need to cast blame on others.
Age 46: I learned that children and grandparents are natural allies.
Age 47: I learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
Age 48: I learned that singing "Amazing Grace" can lift my spirits for hours.
Age 49: I learned that motel mattresses are better on the side away from the phone.
Age 50: I learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
Age 51: I learned that keeping a vegetable garden is worth a medicine cabinet full of pills.
Age 52: I learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly after they die.
Age 53: I learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.
Age 58: I learned that if you want to do something positive for your children, work to improve your marriage.
Age 61: I learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
Age 62: I learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.
Age 64: I learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, the needs of others, your work, meeting new people, and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.
Age 65: I learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make the right decision.
Age 66: I learned that everyone can use a prayer.
Age 72: I learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.
Age 82: I learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch-holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
Age 90: I learned that I still have a lot to learn.
Age 92: I learned that you should pass this on to someone you care about. Sometimes they just need a little something to make them smile. -- Author unknown.
Gary Rust is the chairman of Rust Communications.