You’ve heard it said so many times before that you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket. You also can’t finish a marathon if you don’t start training far in advance of the big day. It’s the same with increasing the number of Democratic candidates who can represent us on local, state, and national levels. The simple truth is, if we don’t have candidates willing to run, we can’t possibly shift the balance of power in Jefferson City.
Let’s focus our attention for now on the upcoming state races.
Take the House of Representatives, for example. Missouri currently has 163 state house districts. Representatives are elected to a 2-year term but are limited to serving a maximum of 8 years. Out of those 163 districts 111 are represented by Republicans, 49 by Democrats, and 3 seats are currently vacant.
Turning Missouri blue means that we need candidates running in every district, even in traditionally red districts. According to information provided by our MDP House Democrats, of those 163 House districts only 59 have a Democratic candidate. Let that sink in:
We still need 104 Democratic candidates to step up and run for office in 2022.
In 2022, 18 state representatives will be term limited and won’t be eligible to run. It’s worth noting that 17 out of those seats are currently held by Republicans, meaning the incumbents will not be running. Looking ahead to 2024, there will be 32 state representatives facing term limits, 13 of whom are Democrats.
Franklin County Candidates
No Franklin County area lawmakers will be term-limited in 2022. However, the November election cycle will be active. Rep. Aaron Grieheimer (HD61) has announced he will be vacating his seat early and heading back to the private sector. That means the HD61 seat will be up for grabs in the November 2022 election.
Rep. Dottie Bailey (HD110) will be up for reelection in November. If she wins the seat, she will be term-limited in 2026. Democrat John Kiehne has declared his candidacy as Bailey’s challenger in that district.
Like Bailey, Rep. John Simmons (HD109) will be up for reelection in November and will be term-limited in 2026 if he continues to win that seat. He currently has no challenger.
Rep. Nate Tate (HD119) was first elected in 2016 and is slated to be term-limited in 2024. While he is up for reelection in November 2022, Tate recently announced that he’s considering making a run for SD26. Regardless of Tate’s final decision, the house seat doesn’t currently have a Democratic challenger.
On the Senate side, there are currently 34 districts in the Show-Me State. Senators are elected to a 4-year term and are limited to serving a total of 8 years. Out of 34 senators, 24 seats are held by Republicans and 10 by Democrats.
In 2022, 6 state senators will be term limited and won’t be eligible to run. With the exception of Sen. Jill Schupp, all are Republicans:
- Dan Hegeman (SD12)
- Bob Onder (SD2)
- Jeanie Riddle (SD10)
- Dave Schatz (SD26)
- Jill Schupp (SD24)
- Paul Wieland (SD22)
For the 2024 election cycle, 7 senators will be term limited. As in 2022, only one – John Rizzo – is a Democrat:
- Bill Eigel (SD23)
- Denny Hoskins (SD21)
- Andrew Koenig (SD15)
- John Rizzo (SD11)
- Caleb Rowden (SD19)
- Mike Cierpiot (SD8)
- Sandy Crawford (SD28)
Franklin County Candidates
As outlined above, our own Franklin County Sen. Dave Schatz (SD26) is running for the US Senate seat vacated by Senator Roy Blunt. Republican Ben Brown is seeking that seat and until recently, so was Rep. Aaron Griesheimer. But Griesheimer’s decision to return to the private sector left Brown as the remaining candidate until yesterday, when Franklin County businessman Bob Jones tossed his hat into the ring. There would be a third Republican running if Rep. Nate Tate decides to enter the race. Regardless, the Democrats currently have no candidate to run in SD26.
By not running, we make it easy for the opposition.
If voters don’t have a choice and Republicans are running unopposed, it shouldn’t surprise us to see a red map staring us in the face. It also shouldn’t surprise us when GOP lawmakers are able to push through far-right extremist legislation without breaking a sweat. They are able to put a checkmark beside every item their rich donors and lobbyists have assigned them to do.
Making Change Happen with Candidates: Next Steps
Even though Missouri was a strong Democratic leaning state many years ago, the reality is that Democrats grew complacent and allowed Republicans to take over the majority in Jefferson City. Turning statewide offices back to blue won’t happen overnight. But it won’t happen at all unless we build a long-term strategy and work the plan.
It starts by identifying potential candidates. Think of people you work with or those in your social groups. Consider friends and family members. Who do you pay attention to when they speak? Who has the confidence of a leader, yet the heart of a public servant? As you consider those you know who share your values, what faces or names come to mind? Those are the people who would make great candidates.
Approach them and ask if they’ve ever thought about running for office. Some may surprise you and say yes, but never considered it a possibility. Others may say no, but after a conversation with them outlining why you thought of them, you may walk away with a maybe.
Connect potential candidates with groups who can help. The Missouri Democratic Party has some wonderful resources for candidates on their website, and its staff members are eager to answer questions and provide support. In addition, local Democratic groups can provide support in a variety of ways. For example, they can help candidates make important connections, do phone banking and canvassing, and more.
Democrats absolutely can win races. We’ve proven it before, and we can do it again. But we can’t win if we don’t have candidates. That’s where change begins.
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