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Biography Russ Carnahan

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Russ Carnahan Russ Carnahan
Russ Carnahan
Former U.S. Representative for Missouri's 3rd congressional district, serving from 2005 to 2013 - member of the Democratic Party.


Russ Carnahan Biography

ENG: John Russell "Russ" Carnahan (/ˈkɑrnəhæn/; born July 10, 1958) was the U.S. Representative for Missouri's 3rd congressional district, serving from 2005 to 2013. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

The district includes the southern third of the city of St. Louis (known as South City) and most of the southern St. Louis suburbs including most of Jefferson County and all of Ste. Genevieve County. Some cities located in the district include: Webster Groves, Mehlville, Affton, and Oakville, and the southern suburbs of Arnold, Herculaneum, Pevely, Crystal City, Barnhart, Imperial, and Festus, as well as Ste. Genevieve in the neighboring Ste. Genevieve County.

Dramatic losses in population in St. Louis in the 2010 Census contributed to Missouri losing a Congressional seat effective 2013. In the proposed Republican created remapping of the state, Carnahan's district is slated to be dismantled. The bulk of the district, including Carnahan's home, was drawn into Missouri's 1st congressional district. The move placed Carnahan and William Lacy Clay, Jr. in the same district; Carnahan lost the primary to Clay for the seat on August 7, 2012.


Early life, education and career

John Russell Carnahan was born in 1958 in Columbia, Missouri. and raised in Rolla He is the son of the late Mel Carnahan, the former Governor of Missouri and posthumous U.S. Senator-elect, and Jean Carnahan (née Carpenter) who was appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill the seat to which her husband was posthumously elected.

His grandfather, A. S. J. Carnahan, served in Congress for seven terms, and also as U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone. Russ Carnahan is a recipient of the Eagle Scout Award. His sister Robin Carnahan was elected to the office of Secretary of State in 2004 and again in 2008 in which she received the most votes cast for a single candidate in the state's history. His brother Randy was killed in the same plane crash that took the life of his father. Russ Carnahan received a bachelor's degree and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Missouri. He worked as a private practice attorney prior to entering politics.


U.S. House of Representatives - Political campaigns

Carnahan’s first campaign for political office was in 1990, when he unsuccessfully ran for Congress in the 8th Congressional District against Republican U.S. Representative Bill Emerson, losing by 14 points, 57% to 43%. Prior to challenging Emerson, by his own telling the then-32-year-old Carnahan had already "been active in government and politics for most of my adult life." Carnahan was active in several of his late father’s political campaigns, including successful bids for state treasurer (1980) and lieutenant governor (1988), and an unsuccessful race for governor (1984). In January 1980, Carnahan slept for five days on the floor outside the Secretary of State’s Office in the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, to ensure that his father’s name would be first on the ballot for Missouri State Treasurer when filing opened on January 8. Said Carnahan, "A lot of people get football tickets this way. It’s going to be a long five days, so I guess we’ll get some sleeping bags and a TV in here." And in 1984, when his father ran for state treasurer, Carnahan made stump speeches for him across Missouri. Carnahan also had already worked for Missouri House Speaker Bob F. Griffin, Missouri Secretary of State Jim Kirkpatrick, and Missouri House Majority Leader Tony Ribaudo; had served on the executive committee of the Missouri Democratic Party; and, was the deputy Missouri campaign manager for Dick Gephardt’s 1988 presidential campaign.

In his race against Emerson, one newspaper remarked "on Carnahan’s tactics of deliberate misinformation and distortion of facts" and his "negative and demagogic approach to the 8th District race." The Sikeston Standard-Democrat said, "Democrat Russ Carnahan has brought more mud into a congressional campaign than the days of Bill D. Burlison." According to the Rolla Daily News, "We have already heard enough from Carnahan, whose loose interpretation of Mr. Emerson’s record is grossly misleading. Mostly B.S., in other words. Couple that with Carnahan’s wild accusations of what Emerson is to be blamed for, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Carnahan doesn’t soon attribute Missouri’s recent fifth-down loss to Colorado to Emerson." Responding to this criticism, Carnahan alleged "that the Sowers family, which publishes the Rolla Daily News, has endorsed Emerson because the congressman rents district office space from the family." The Southeast Missourian described Carnahan's claim as "amateurish." In the final days of the campaign, "frustrated by ads being run by [Emerson]," Carnahan "lashed back by calling Emerson a ‘damn liar.’" Emerson defeated Carnahan, 57% to 43%.

Carnahan considered running against Emerson again in 1994, but ultimately "decided 1994 was not the time." He then moved to St. Louis, where in 2000 he was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives. He narrowly defeated political activist Jeanette Mott Oxford in the Democratic primary election by a scant 64 votes but went on to win the general election by a wide margin. He was reelected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2002.

In 2004, Carnahan ran for the 3rd Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives which was vacated by retiring U.S. Representative and former House Minority Leader and co-founder of the New Democratic Coalition Dick Gephardt. Carnahan narrowly won a crowded primary field of ten Democratic candidates in 2004 with 22.9 percent of the vote, finishing with less than 1,800 votes ahead of his nearest rival, political activist Jeff Smith, who garnered 21.3 percent. In the general election Carnahan faced Republican candidate William J. Federer, an author and Religious Right activist who had previously run against Gephardt on several occasions. The election was somewhat closer than expected. However, St. Louis's strong Democratic tilt (a Republican has not represented this district or its predecessors since 1949) helped Carnahan win with 53 percent of the vote. The district reverted to form in 2006 and Carnahan was reelected with 65 percent of the vote.


2008, 2010

Carnahan won re-election over Republican nominee Edward Martin Jr., Constitution Party nominee Nick Ivanovich, and Libertarian nominee Steven Hedrick. Brian Wallner qualified as a write-in candidate.



On May 4, 2011, the Missouri Legislature overrode Governor Jay Nixon's veto of the proposed elimination of the 3rd District, by a 109-44 vote in the Missouri House, and 28-6 in the Missouri Senate. Carnahan faced fellow Democrat Lacy Clay in the primary for the redrawn 1st district on August 7 2012, since his current district will have been eliminated, and lost by a landslide, 63% to 34%.

Carnahan has been mentioned as a possible candidate to fill a vacancy in Missouri's 8th congressional district. Carnahan has deep roots in this district, which is the descendant of a district represented by his grandfather A.S.J. Carnahan in the years 1945-47 and 1949-61.





February 11, 2013

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