ST. LOUIS – The Missouri Democratic nominee for governor, Chris Koster, stood before a raucous crowd of well over 300 supporters at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers building in St. Louis City Monday night. Wearing a worn down, oversized belt buckle of the Seal of the State of Missouri, he talked about meeting a man with cancer in Columbia who canvassed for him and about the oncologist in St. Louis who told him he had knocked 60 doors for his campaign.
But he really lit up when he spoke about greeting workers getting off of their night shifts at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery at 6 a.m.
“As one of the gentleman walked off in the darkness towards his car… he turned around and said ‘Hey Chris, I just want to thank you for always having the back of the working guy,” Koster said to cheers.
“I felt sorry for Eric Greitens because he’s never going to hear anybody tell him that,” he continued.
Koster was flanked by most of the rest of the Missouri Democrats other statewide candidates. Secretary of State Jason Kander, running for U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt’s Senate seat, as well as former Congressman Russ Carnahan and former state Rep. Judy Baker, running for lieutenant governor and state treasurer respectively.
Those four were joined by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Martin Luther King, III, the son of legendary civil rights activist, Martin Luther King, Jr.
The rally sought to provide that final spark that could push the Democrats past their Republican counterparts in so many close races – especially as Democrats in Missouri have seen a trickle-down effect from Hillary Clinton’s closing lead over Donald Trump nationwide, and expanded his lead within the state of Missouri.
Given the atmosphere of the room, Kander’s speech may have provided that electricity, an energy that overshadowed much of the anxiety and malaise that has characterized the 2016 election season. He described the final hours before polls opened in Missouri Wednesday standing at the base of a hill he had to climb during his physical training test for the Army.
“When I would hit that hill, every time I would be tired, I would be dragging, and every time the same thing would happen, I would look at my stopwatch and see that I was in it,” he said. “And I would sprint the rest of the way.
“So this is where we sprint.”
Koster, Kander, and Carnahan each trail or lead by razor-thin differences well within the margin of error and will likely need every single vote they can get Nov. 8. Baker, secretary of state nominee Robin Smith and attorney general nominee Teresa Hensley each trail their opponents by significantly wider margins. All four candidates took time to talk about their message of helping middle-class workers, equal pay for women, and empowering people to get out the vote Tuesday.
King said that his father would urge everyone to “vote like they had never voted before.”
In closing, Kander made the case to send him to Washington.
“I will go there, I will replace Sen. Blunt, and I will never become Sen. Blunt,” Kander said before launching into his central campaign theme. “We know we’re not going to change Washington until we change the people we send there.”