It was just five months ago when Mike Revis and Missouri Democrats flipped a red seat blue in a district that President Donald Trump won by 28 points. Now Republicans are trying to win that seat back.
On February 6, 2018, in a special election, Rep. Mike Revis won House District 97 by a 3-point margin. He beat Republican David Linton, the son a former-Rep. Bill Linton.
Revis entered the race as the younger opponent, a moderate Democrat and member of the NRA who came from a working-class family, raised as the son of a carpenter and a teacher.
Revis is seeking to continue representing the socially conservative, pro-labor district that includes portions of Jefferson and St. Louis counties. Three Republicans are vying for the opportunity to oust Revis from the seat formerly held by Rep. John McCaherty.
Linton, Mary Elizabeth Coleman, and Phil Amato are the three Republican candidates that will face off on August 7, 2018.
Billing himself as a problem-solver, Amato has taken a unique approach to his campaign. He has worked to show voters he can take their concerns and find viable solutions to the issue.
One of the biggest issues facing schoolings in Missouri is safety and mental health, constituents told Amato. So, he went out and sought a solution.
“We need to solve this before it becomes a tragedy in our own school districts that we have read about seen on the news,” said Amato.
So, he went about trying to find a solution and after talking with experts in several fields a solution emerged.
If elected to the Missouri House, Amato would file legislation “that would allow for construction grants in the State of Missouri to be issued.” The construction grants would be split up into different categories such as general construction and security upgrades — mental health would fall under security.
“My expertise has always been taking complex problems and busting them apart into pieces, then finding experts to work on the individual pieces and then putting all the pieces together,” said Amato.
He has served for 16 years as Arnold City Councilman and was elected as Mayor Pro-Tem eight times. He also is the president of the largest independent food pantry in St. Louis region.
Through campaigning for the House, his first election where parties come into play, he has been surprised at the level of partisanship that has come into play.
“Sometimes people will say ‘I’m behind you because I’m a Republican’ and somethings people will say ‘I can’t get behind you because I’m a Democrat’ and they don’t look beyond party affiliation to what problem I am trying to solve,” said Amato.
“I am a problem-solver. I don’t want to go to Jefferson City to be something, I want to do something.”
A ‘fresh, conservative’ candidate
The only other election that Coleman has ran in had fewer people cast votes than when her high school elected their prom queen.
“I didn’t know what it was like to run a campaign at this level,” said Coleman, who served for two years on the Arnold City Council. “I’ve learned a lot about what this process is like and have gotten to know our neighbors. Whether people are a Democrat or Republican at the door, we are all interested in the same thing. People are interest in good schools, making sure that our state economic development is growing in the right way, good jobs. We are more alike than we are different and that is not something that is told a lot.”
A lifelong conservative that has a background as an attorney and the CEO of a legal start up company, Coleman believes she has leg up on being results-oriented and hitting the ground running on addressing the issues her district is facing.
“With the supermajority, people want to be the solution, they don’t want to have just a protest vote. They want to be represented and they want to be represented by someone who is actually able to get things done,” said Coleman.
Out knocking doors, she’s had “great conversations” with constituents about their concerns. Sometimes those conversations result in that person donating to Coleman’s campaign. In a district that is not entirely wealthy, Coleman calls instances like that humbling.
“To have someone believe in the campaign at that level is just really meaningful and really touching and motivates you to work that much harder,” she said. “If people are putting their trust in you and investing in you that way, you don’t let anybody down.”
Second time a charm?
Linton may not have some out on top in the February special election but he is still working to get his message of to “securing the God-given rights to Life, Liberty, and Property” out to the voters in the district.
“I am getting good responses at doors,” said Linton, who added constituents “like my message.”
Linton comes into the race as a practiced attorney. He has a degree in engineering, law, and theology, all from Missouri schools, and has worked for utility companies like Ameren and ITC Great Plains. He now works in his own firm.
His platform mirrors that of other Republicans in the Show-Me State, calling for less government and more freedom.
“We have to return to our bedrock principles of Life, Liberty, and Property,” said Linton. “We have to eliminate abortions, we have to secure the right to life. Second of all, we have to secure the right to liberty and property. Through our tax structure and our bloated government, we are taking our citizens’ liberty and property at every turn.”
He doesn’t enter the race with a predetermined agenda saying his commitment is to “returning to the Declaration of Independence” and securing “life, liberty, and property.”
“Anytime you have a legislator, or a candidate for the legislature, telling you his agenda, that means he is going to take something from you to accomplish his agenda,” Linton said.
FAST FUN FACTS
Fast food: Popeye’s Chicken
Go-to music: Chicago
Mary Elizabeth Coleman
Fast food: Taco Bell
Go-to music: ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ by the Proclaimers
Fast Food: Powerade
Go to music: “Can I Tell You,” by Kansas
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.