Home / General / When Democracy Doesn’t Serve Republican Interests, Republicans Turn Against Democracy, Missouri Edition

When Democracy Doesn’t Serve Republican Interests, Republicans Turn Against Democracy, Missouri Edition


There is really is no bottom for Republicans subverting democracy. Missouri passed a right-to-work law. There is a ballot measure for November so the public can overturn the law. What is the Republican response? Create a special election to lower turnout!

A GOP-led effort to move a referendum on making Missouri a “right to work” state is advancing in the Legislature.

In action Tuesday, the House Economic Development Committee voted 8-4 on partisan lines to move the statewide vote on right to work from the November general election to the August primary, when fewer voters traditionally go to the polls.

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, who sponsored the change, dismissed claims from Democratic lawmakers that the plan was designed to reduce the number of voters weighing in on the controversial pro-business proposal.

“I think we’ll get an exceptional turnout with this on the ballot,” Rehder said.

The Republican-controlled Legislature sent the pro-business measure to Gov. Eric Greitens desk last year. He signed it and hailed the change as a way to boost job creation in Missouri.

Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, called the maneuver a “devious ploy” because people who signed the petitions believed the question would be on the November ballot.

Louis added that in the 26 similar referenda dating to 1914, the Legislature did not move any of them to the primary election.

The tussle over right to work has generated big-dollar campaign contributions. Gov. Eric Greitens’ dark money organization, A New Missouri, has pumped more than $750,000 toward the effort to keep the law from being overturned.

Rep. Doug Beck, an Affton Democrat and union member, said Greitens, who is facing felony charges related to an extramarital affair and campaign fundraising, is more of a liability for job creation than whether Missouri is a right to work state.

“I would think that a governor who isn’t under indictment is more important than right to work for companies coming to this state,” Beck told the committee.

Rep. Mark Ellebracht, D-Liberty, said it was troubling that lawmakers and GOP leadership were deliberating over the election implications, rather than on the merits of the law.

“The whole thing reeks of partisan politics,” Ellebracht said.

And even if the law is still overturned, Republicans will have tired out labor’s GOTV effort, leaving them less prepared to go to the mat for Claire McCaskill in November. It’s pure politics. Because a real vote threatens Republican priorities, democracy should be subverted.

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