By Collin Reischman
Stuart Murray, legislative assistant for freshmen Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, graduated from Truman University last May with a degree in political science. While political science majors are common in the Capitol, Murray said his particular interest in policy development isn’t quiet as widespread.
“A lot of people might think policy development is boring,” Murray told The Missouri Times. “But that was something I always really enjoyed at Truman, and I’d like to work in public policy I think. It’s a possibility, certainly.”
After graduating, Murray began working on campaigns for state representatives through his connections at Truman. A “very involved” member of the Truman chapter of the College Republicans, Murray worked on the campaign for Rep. Nate Walker, R-Kirksville, among others.
He described his role as a “catch-all” for the campaigns. Murray knocked on doors daily, scheduled public events, and organized fundraisers.
“Anything you can think of as sort of typical election work, I did it,” Murray said.
Soon, the elections were over, and Murray joined plenty of other graduates across the state in applying for work at the Capitol. After some patient waiting, Murray received a call from Rowden, and they scheduled an interview. Shortly thereafter, Murray went to work with the young representative.
Rowden narrowly defeated Ken Jacob, a former State Senator, by just more than 300 votes out of about 15,000 cast. Murray said Rowden’s age (he was not yet 30 during his campaign) was probably more of a benefit than a determent for his campaign.
“I didn’t work on [Rowden’s] campaign that closely, but from what I’ve heard and what I did see, it really boiled down to: do you want to elect more of the same, or something different?” Murray said. “Do you want the same thing, or somebody young and ambitious who is willing to put in the work that is needed?”
Murray doesn’t know where he’ll end up, but he doesn’t see himself leaving politics anytime soon. In true policy-wonk fashion, he cites the budget process as one of the more interesting parts of his first year in Jefferson City.
“A lot of people have an idea of how the budget process works, and you hear a lot about how bad it is in Washington with a budget,” Murray said. “But to sit in a hearing here and watch someone go line-by-line and ask a department head to explain why they need this or that, it’s just something that has taught me a lot, and it has been incredibly interesting to see.”
To contact Collin Reischman, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Twitter at @Collin_MOTimes.