ST. LOUIS (CN) – Missouri poll workers are bracing for an anticipated 10 percent higher than normal turnout during the state’s primary election Tuesday as the hot button topic of Right-to-Work and a U.S. Senate race are expected to draw voters to the ballot box.
With Right-to-Work, workers cannot be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join or pay dues to a labor union. Twenty-eight states have passed such laws.
In February 2017, Missouri’s Republican-dominated Legislature passed Right-to-Work and it was signed into law by then-Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican. The law was to take effect on Aug. 28, 2017.
But Missouri labor unions successfully blocked the law by collecting 310,567 signatures, more than triple the amount required, to put the issue on the ballot for Missouri voters.
Supporters of Right-to-Work, Proposition A on the ballot, say it will create jobs and give workers the freedom to decide whether to join a union instead of being forced into one. They say the law ensures workers will not be forced to hand over their money to unions, which may use it to support political activities with which they disagree.
Opponents of Right-to-Work say that workers in states that have passed the law earn $8,740 less per year and that workplace injuries and deaths are 41 percent higher in those states. They say Proposition A is promoted by a well-coordinated network of out-of-state billionaires, super PACs, and corporate special interest groups that are laying off workers, shipping jobs overseas and hiding profits offshore to duck paying the taxes families and small businesses must pay.
Yard signs stating “Vote No on Prop A” and “Proud Union Home” stand prominently in most of St. Louis’ middle-class neighborhoods. Commercials funded by both sides have flooded television and radio airwaves.
Even when Prop. A would appear on the ballot was hotly contested.
Supporters, and ultimately the Republican Legislature, pushed for the measure to be placed on the primary ballot, to pave the way for more businesses to open in the state. Opponents wanted it on the November ballot, fearing an August vote would affect the much-anticipated U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill and the expected Republican nominee, Attorney General Josh Hawley, by reducing the amount of union voters heading to the polls in November.
While poll aggregator Real Clear Politics has the McCaskill-Hawley race in November as a tossup, both politicians have a myriad of primary opponents.
McCaskill was the last Democrat to win a statewide office when she won re-election in 2012. She ran unopposed in that primary, but has six challengers in this campaign.
She is the heavy favorite to win her party’s nomination. She has significant party support and set a record in the first quarter of 2017 for the most money raised by a Senate candidate in Missouri during a nonelection year.
McCaskill recently confirmed she was the target of a Russian hacking attempt, which was unsuccessful. In her statement on it, McCaskill called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a thug and a bully.”
McCaskill is running against six relative unknowns for the Democratic nomination. Her opponents are Angelica Earl, David Faust, Travis Gonzalez, John Hogan, Leonard Steinman II and Carla Wright.
Hawley has overwhelming support, both financially and in endorsements, from the Republican Party. President Trump recently implored his audience to vote for Hawley over McCaskill during a speech in Kansas City.
Hawley faces 10 other candidates for the Republican nomination. Those candidates are Brian Hagg, Bradley Krembs, Tony Monetti, Kristi Nichols, Ken Patterson, Austin Petersen, Peter Pfeifer, Fred Ryman, Christina Smith and Courtland Sykes.
None of Hawley’s opponents have the name recognition that he does. Petersen was a former Libertarian presidential candidate and Sykes garnered some national attention with anti-feminist posts on social media.