Tom Coleman 2

Former Rep. Tom Coleman is seen in a provided photo. Coleman is on a tour around Missouri to ‘protect democracy.’

A former Republican congressman who represented St. Joseph for 17 years is on a tour meant to promote democracy, but he told News-Press NOW that politics is more divisive than ever.

Former Rep. Tom Coleman represented the Sixth Congressional District from 1976 to 1993. In an interview, Coleman said the vote from some Republicans to not certify President Joe Biden’s electoral votes is an example of how much Congress has changed.

Current Sixth Congressional District Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., was among the legislators to vote against certification.

“I’m very hesitant to criticize Congressman Graves, but I will say I was terribly depressed to see that all but one of the Republican members of Congress from Missouri voted not to accept the electoral college votes,” Coleman said. “They were part of the 147 (legislators) on Jan. 6 after the insurrection to vote that way.”

Coleman is teaming with former Rep. Russ Carnahan, a Democrat who represented the Third Congressional District in Missouri. The pair have launched a “roadshow” they hope to take across Missouri, including to St. Joseph, to “protect democracy.”

“The big lie about election fraud fed by misinformation on social and other media, endless amounts of dark money and fear-mongering inspired by the former president and his allies are eating away at the foundations of our democracy,” Coleman and Carnahan said in a news release before the first tour stop. “We must stand up to this relentless attack on our nation and all we hold dear.”

Coleman used his standing as a former congressman to sign a “friend of the court brief” urging the federal courts to allow a congressional committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 to have access to former President Donald Trump’s White House records.

He said current politics are much more divisive than when he served.

“I served in the minority; the Democrats were in charge when I was in Congress, but in those 20 years I was able to introduce and pass legislation even as a freshman member,” Coleman said. “It got testy sometimes, but there wasn’t this vile feeling between parties and between individuals.”

Coleman said that in a diverse country like the United States, compromise is a must in legislating. But he said compromise no longer seems like an option from Republican party leadership.

“It’s really disgusting to see that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that his purpose is to make sure that Joe Biden only serves one term,” he said. “This is just nonsense and it’s not helpful.”

Recently, Republican members who go against the former president are largely ostracized. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., was removed from a leadership position after voting to impeach Trump.

But Coleman said those members of the party, including himself, should not be seen as “RINOS” (Republican in name only).

“Well if you look at my record, I was pretty far from a RINO,” he said. “The party does not resemble anything like what we started out in Missouri.”

Matt Hoffmann is a our lead investigative reporter. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @NpNowHoffmann.

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