JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – With Tuesday’s special elections, Republicans still hold their supermajorities in both chambers of the Missouri legislature. But with so many conservatives, many have been asking if the party is getting too big to remain united.
“Any political party that is successful will have differences of opinion. The broader the interest you represent, the more disagreements you will have,” Joe Lakin of Victory Enterprises said. “I don’t think moral victories are worth anything in politics. You want to have as many seats as possible. You want to continue to add. It’s kind of like a rainy day fund for a caucus.”
But he says the thing to look at is the big issues when they needed 109 votes to override a Democratic governor. Another thing to take into consideration is the fact that Republican lawmakers have been coming out in droves to aid their fellow members in their elections.
Dozens of Republican lawmakers could be seen helping out with the campaign for now-Senator-elect Mike Cierpiot, whether it be knocking doors or making calls. And Lakin says that kind of comradery is exactly why the GOP has been so effective in keeping seats.
“It’s a team sport. HRCC is a perfect example of a team effort. What you saw in SD 8 with people coming from all over the state, it doesn’t even surprise me anymore,” Lakin said. “Bringing in resources from outside are essential to success, and I think that’s what we saw here. And I think you’ll continue to see that in the special elections and next November. “
— Sara Walsh (@SaraForMissouri) November 5, 2017
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But the special election also showed some fight from the Missouri Democratic Party, who utilized a strategy of trying to split the Republican vote between two candidates in the SD 8 race. Some analysts point to this as a resurgence for the party, but Lakin says Democrats may still have more ground to make up if they want to change the colors in the House and Senate.
“Certainly they showed some new signs of life and activity here, but I just think that the end of the day, campaigns matter, candidates matter, and issues matter,” he said.”It seems to me that the local apparatus has been won over by more of the Bernie Sanders crowd than the Hillary Clinton crowd… but I don’t think moving further to the left is a path back.”
He said that until Democrats can put forward some more mainstream type candidates, they will continue to struggle in winning back some seats.
“I think that until Democrats figure out the team nature of this and get their organization straightened out, I don’t see them having any huge opportunities,” he said. “Even in a tough environment, you’ll get beat by a better organization with better candidates.”
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.