ST. LOUIS – As the SD 8 special election heats up, the panelists on Sunday’s episode of This Week in Missouri talked about political strategies that could allow Democrat Hillary Shields a chance to win over Republican Rep. Mike Cierpiot and Independent Jacob Turk. Such a victory, as Democrat panelists Matt Lieberman and Rep. Cora Walker claim, would be a good sign for U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill.
“I think it was diabolical of the Democrats,” Jennifer Bukowsky said. “It was very smart of them to make the Republicans spend money on this race. [That means] it’s less money that we would have to fight Claire McCaskill next year, I think it’s classic Claire McCaskill tactics, she’s a brilliant strategist.”
Host Scott Faughn reflected that this was not the first time Missouri Democrats used this strategy. He pointed to the how Democrat Michela Skelton pressured Sara Walsh in this summer’s House District 50 race. While Skelton spent more in that race than Walsh did, it made the race much closer than expected.
Rep. Kathie Conway was skeptical and felt that if Democrats were using such a strategy, it might have the opposite effect and actually help Rep. Mike Cierpiot win.
“If the word gets out that Democrats certainly helped Jacob Turk get on the ballot, that can only help Rep. Cierpiot in the long run,” Conway said. “I would advise him to never, ever use his opponent’s last name and only last name. Just call her strictly Hillary.”
Walker feels that Shields could win based on the merits of the campaign. As anti-establishment views become increasingly popular among the American electorate, Walker believes such a sentiment may drive historically Republican voters to consider voting for a Democrat.
“You’ve got a group of people in that senatorial district who are tired of the policies that have forgotten about the working people, forgotten about middle-income people, middle-class people,” Walker said. “When you have an alternative that is going to be a rubber stamp on tax policies that take money from people’s paychecks, put it to the wealthy, and continue to take away people’s ability to afford things, like healthcare, you’re going to have folks that are going to have a referendum on the entire Republican party.”
While Faughn was skeptical that enough voters will feel that way to give Shields a win outright, he thinks that a split Republican electorate could allow Shields enough votes to just edge out a victory. Democrat strategist Matt Lieberman did not want to immediately comment, joking, “I live in a glass house, so I shouldn’t throw stones.”
However, he also added that Shields has a capable team behind her who could not only pave the way for her to win but McCaskill a win as well.
“I think the way that Geoff (Gerling) and the Jackson County Democrats have organized is refreshing to see, especially after the trouncing that Democrats took last cycle,” Lieberman said. “I think people will be seeing this as a Referendum on the Governor and I think that the Hawley and McCaskill campaigns should pay attention to see.”
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Michael Layer is a reporter for the Missouri Times and the Missouri Times Magazine. He joined the Missouri Times in August 2017 after graduating from Goucher College the previous May. To contact Michael, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @_MichaelLayer