Dignity in action

Posted: Tuesday, October 17, 2000

The following editorial appeared in today's Kansas City Star:

Missouri mourns. An outstanding public servant has fallen.

Gov. Mel Carnahan was declared missing Monday evening south of St. Louis after the small plane that was carrying him and three others slipped off the radar screen.

Not one for flamboyant flourishes, the Democrat carved out a successful career by doing things his own way, quietly, steadily, decently. At a time when many yearn for retirement, he was engaged in one of the most vigorous campaigns of his life, seeking to unseat Sen. John Ashcroft, a Republican who served as governor when Carnahan was lieutenant governor.

Carnahan said he took on Ashcroft rather than retire to his home in Rolla after completing two terms as governor because he believed Ashcroft represented leadership that was far too conservative and out of Missouri's mainstream. For months, public opinion polls showed the contest too close to call.

Carnahan will be remembered as a governor whose steady hand guided the state into prosperity. He will be recognized for the state's advances in education funding and accountability as well as welfare reform that worked.

He was keenly aware of the need to recognize all of Missouri's citizens, no matter their gender, origin or ethnicity. Even though many Missouri politicians fear taking on the powerful National Rifle Association and other members of the gun lobby, Carnahan led the effort to defeat Proposition B, which would have authorized Missouri citizens to carry concealed weapons.

Carnahan was a country lawyer who never forgot his common-sense roots. He will be sorely missed.

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