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Friend or Foe? Carnahan and Clay Brace for Possible Fight

Kevin Killeen
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Missouri Congressmen Russ Carnahan and William "Lacy" Clay Jr.

Missouri Congressmen Russ Carnahan and William “Lacy” Clay Jr.

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ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Like the old gladiator movie in which two friends are chained together and forced into the arena for a battle to the death, Missouri Congressmen Clay and Carnahan face a fight neither one wants.

Both men are awaiting the outcome of a court battle over redistricting that will determine whether they might face off in a primary battle party insiders say would be nasty and divisive.

Appearing together at a recent event, the two long-time allies appeared cordial, but a little formal.

When asked about the obvious — how they feel about the fight that’s looming between them, Clay approached the podium.

“We will remain friends,” Clay said, “I mean, look, we aren’t at that point yet.”

Carnahan, as he has for months, ducked the question.

“I’m staying focussed on the job at hand,” Carnahan said.

Party insiders tell KMOX that behind the scenes a fund raising arms race is taking place, with both men sharpening their swords for what could be a racially divisive fight. The fear is the battle would weaken Democratic Party unity statewide at a time when Governor Nixon and Senator McCaskill need everyone working together for their own re-election bids.

Those who follow party history carefully say Carnahan would enter the race with the “double L” factor on his side. He’s said to be “lazy, but lucky.” The much vaunted “Clay machine” is described as a little rusty around the gears,compared to the glory days when Congressman Bill Clay Sr. could turn out the votes. Nevertheless, the consensus is Clay would probably win, unless a third democrat, such as Mayor Slay or former Mayor Schoemel jump in, deciding they want to run for Congress.

The Missouri Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the case and is expected to rule soon on whether Missouri’s new Congressional district maps will remain as they were redrawn after the 2010 census.

If so, the gladiator movie could begin.

Copyright KMOX.

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