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Twice this week, the two leaders in the democratic gubernatorial primary met to debate the issues. Monday night, Democratic Governor Bob Holden and State Auditor Claire McCaskill met in Kansas City for a debate. And Tuesday, the two were in St Louis. KSMU's Missy Shelton spoke with an SMS Communications Professor about the debate and how this primary will impact the democrats in the General Election.
DR. DONAL STANTON IS A PROFESSOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AT S-M-S AND A LONG-TIME STRATEGIST AND CONSULTANT FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
I RECENTLY SAT DOWN WITH HIM AND ASKED FOR AN ANALYSIS OF THE DEBATES.
Shelton: Was there a clear winner or clear loser?
Stanton: Clear winners and losers in this kind of contested, inner-party fight will be in the minds of the beholders. There was nothing in the debates that would move someone who was undecided. It was the same as what we've seen in their ads.
Shelton: Who do you think won?
Stanton: I thought it was a draw. I used to hear political consultants tell candidates to say whatever you want, no matter what the question is. They call it bridging. Ignore the question and bridge it on over to what you want to talk about. So, there was very little clash. In that sense, it's not really what, as a debate person, I would call a debate.
Shelton: How did we get to this point? Was it surprising Claire McCaskill mounted this challenge of an incumbent governor?
Staton: I wasn't surprised because Bob made some mistakes that he hasn't been able to climb over. I know a lot of people in the party pushed Claire to get involved, with the argument that if Holden is the nominee, we're probably going to lose the governorship. The only chance we have is with someone new coming in. I don't know if that's right or not but that was the thinking.
Shelton: McCaskill and Holden have alread spent a lot of money...Will this put them at a disadvantage in the General Election?
Stanton: I can tell you from the viewpoint of political history that every time there's been an emotional, contested primary in either party, that party's lost. In 1992 when Carnahan was elected, there was a spirited primary with three of the bright, young stars in the Republican party, Roy Blunt, Wendell Bailey, and Bill Webster. That was a very tough primary which Webster barely won. I remember I was working as an aide to Governor Teasdale when he was challenged by Jim Spainhour. Teasdale managed to win the primary rather easily then lost a close General Election. In the last 50 years or so, when there have been contested primaries that have caused a lot of peopel to get emotionally involved, that's been a bad signal for the success of that party in November.
Shelton: I've been speaking with Dr. Donal Stanton, an SMS Communications Professor and long-time strategist for the Democratic party."