In less than two weeks, voters in Missouri's new 2nd Congressional district, which spans parts of St. Louis and St. Charles Counties. While the frontrunner, Republican Ann Wagner is already in the "closing argument" phase of her campaign, Democrat Glenn Koenen is still trying to make first impressions.
Koenen, the longtime Executive Director of the Circle of Concern Food Pantry, admits he doesn't have the name recognition and financial backing that Wagner, a former Ambassador and RNC Co-Chair, does.
He also hasn't been helped by the Democratic Party's decision to stay on the sidelines, or the recount following his narrow win in the August primary against Harold Whitfied which not only cost him time on the campaign trail, but also money spent on legal fees that could have been used for advertising.
Koenen said he has a budget of roughly $40,000 at the moment, enough to get at least 59 television ads on broadcast television stations in the St. Louis market
Koenen said he would not be in the race had Rep. Russ Carnahan opted not to challenge Rep. William Lacy Clay in the First District and instead run in the Second. He said he still ran into Second district voters on Primary Day in August who thought they were going to be able to vote for Carnahan in the First, which suggests all candidates in the race, which also includes Libertarian Bill Slantz and Constitution Party candidate Anatol Zorikova, still have work to do to educate voters about new Congressional district boundaries.
Patch sat down with Koenen earlier this week to talk about the campaign:
On Why He's Running
"My whole career has been spent in jobs where I’m trying to help people get past the worst parts of life. We’re helping people who are unemployed or underemployed, facing illness or other issues , and that’s a big part of government, making sure that people get protected from the worst that’s going on in the world. And the government I’ve seen the last few years, hasn’t been doing that."
On The Financial Crisis
Koenen said he supported the bailout of the auto industry because of the impact of middle class jobs on the economy, but said "too much emphasis" was placed on saving wall street and that some firms should have been allowed to fail.
On Health Care Reform
Koenen gives the Affordable Care Act a "C+" but said it doesn't get far enough to a so-called single payer system, leaves too many exemptions for employers to offer health insurance, and doesn't do enough to tie health insurance to individuals, rather than employers.
His First Bill
Koenen said his "HR1" would be a move to make government spending and accounting practices fall in line with the rules which apply to everyone, getting rid of "government math."
He called Iran the greatest short-term threat to the U.S.
Koenen said he was opposed to the Iraq War, that it was time to get out of Afghanistan, a war he supported, even though he concedes "the apple cart" was overturned in the country. "We can’t make the world look just like the United States," he said, adding that there would still be a role for the U.S. in Afghanistan when it came to assisting with technical support, and developing natural resources.