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Clinton Scandal Effects

September 16, 1998
By: Pervaiz Shallwani
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The predictions depend on who you ask.

The scandal between President Clinton and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky has Missouri Republicans predicting a complete shift in the ranks after a 44-year drought. The Republicans have not controlled a Missouri legislative chamber since 1954.

Democrats, however, express optimism that a matter at the national level will not effect how people vote in Missouri.

"This scandal might not have a lot of impact in San Francisco, Martha's Vineyard or Greenwich Village, but it resonates in middle-America," said Sen. Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau.

Kinder said that he sees both a decrease in the number of people who show up to the poles in November and those who switch party loyalty.

"There is going to be a reaction this fall," he said. "Their is a noticeable nervousness among (democrats). There seems to be more smiles on our faces than on the other side."

But in the Governor's office, the tactic is to appeal to the state voter's intellect.

"Our feeling is that Missouri voters are going make decisions on the candidates themselves," said governor's spokesman Chris Sifford. "I think they have shown that in the past."

Columbia Democratic Reps. Tim Harlan and Chuck Graham agree.

"I would be surprised if the voters in Missouri are not able to vote on who is talking about the real issues that effect their everyday lives," Harlan said. "I think the daily going on (in the scandal) have very little effect on the daily goings on in the general assembly."

Harlan said Republicans in Missouri bringing the Clinton matter into the spotlight is more of a way of avoiding talking about the real issues.

Graham, who says he has criticized the president's actions since his national apology back on August 17, says it is premature to determine what the outcome is going to be from Washington on the Missouri elections.

"The republicans could still screw up the proceedings," he said. "Everybody runs as an individual -- sure you belong to a party, but I'm sure all Republicans did not support Newt Gingrich when he was accused of ethics violations."

Currently, Democrats hold an 86-75 edge, with 1 independent and 1 vacancy, in number of seats in the House. In the Senate, the Democrats hold a 19-15 edge.

Kinder says he has seen indications that the Clinton matter has increased the number of seats Republicans will gain in November

"Before the fourth of July, we had 8-10 house seats in play," Kinder said, "and now we have 20."