Sen. Coleman seeks re-election
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Sen. Coleman seeks re-election

Date: November 3, 2006
By: Kathryn Buschman
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY- Next week's elections could determine more than just the political make-up of Missouri's General Assembly. After voters' decide who will represent them in Jefferson City the legislators will vote for leadership positions within the caucuses.

Sen. Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis, has served as the Senate Democratic Floor Leader for the past two years and will seek re-election next week. One possible opponent is Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia. Graham will not confirm the rumors, saying he is focusing on getting Democrats elected to the legislature.

Coleman, however, is open about her intention to seek another two years as the leader of her party in the Senate.

"It is a huge responsibility and there is always inter-politics being played," Coleman said. "It's not really one of those things that is a simple as it seems because you got to make your caucus happy and you can image how challenging it can be to keep people enthused about our jobs."

Coleman said being elected to the position takes campaigning. "You talk about your record and your ability to get things done for them, and your ability to work with the opposing party."

When Coleman first became Democratic leader two years ago, she stressed that she intended to take a less hostile-stance than her predecessor, former Columbia Sen. Ken Jacob who engaged in frequent filibusters in an effort to block the Republican agenda.  Coleman's less confrontational approach has won Republican praise, but private criticism from some Democrats.

Coleman said the ability to negotiate with the Republicans was important for her party. "If you have someone that is always adversarial and never open and receptive to sitting down with the Republicans to even talk about the issue nobody is ever going to get anything done in Jefferson City."

Coleman said the Republicans in the Senate and her have worked together to solve issues like eminent domain and restrictions on liability lawsuits. "We were not able, of course, to agree on other issues that Democrats find very important such as Medicaid cuts and photo ID legislation but based on what could have happened I believe we came out much better than we would have if I didn't have the ability to negotiate and get things done for the Democrats."

The minority leader acts as the administrative arm of the minority caucus. The position assigns legislators to standing committees and works as mediator between to the two parties.

The Democratic party will hold elections Thursday, Nov. 9, behind closed doors.  No contests have emerged to challenge the current leadership for Senate Republicans nor for either party's leadership's posts in the House.