Republicans gear up for the 8th Congressional District’s Campaign University


— The 8th Congressional District is hosting its first Campaign University event this Saturday in Poplar Bluff.

The event is intended to be an opportunity for current and future candidates at all levels to come learn the basics of campaigning, ranging from fundraising to social media.

Eddy Justice
Eddy Justice

“This is an opportunity for people who have good ideas about how to fix problems in Missouri but don’t know the basics about how to go about it,” Eddy Justice, 8th Congressional District Committee chair, says. “We want to help them accomplish their purpose and teach them some of what these other people have learned so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Here are the scheduled courses that Justice says participants can expect to take:

  • – Media content and relations with consultant Robert Knodell
  • – Grassroots organization with United For Missouri’s Carl Bearden
  • – Opposition research with consultant James Harris
  • – Vendor relations with consultant Jeff Roe
  • – Effective political communication with Sen. Eric Schmitt
  • – MRP (Missouri Republican Party) and you with MRP executive director Shane Schoeller
  • – Social media with Jaret Jensen former chair of Missouri Federation of Young Republicans
  • – Fundraising basics with former House Speaker Steve Tilley
  • – Campaign budgeting with Josh Haynes, Congressman Jason Smith’s chief of staff
  • – A panel discussion with Congessman Jason Smith, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, House Speaker Tim Jones, former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway and Rep. Todd Richardson
  • – Wrap-up session with Scott Diekhaus, executive director for the House Republican Campaign Committee

Justice says the event, sponsored by the 8th Congressional District with help from the MRP, HRCC and Senate Campaign Committee, is set to have between 85-100 people, with a large contingent from southeast Missouri, St. Louis and Springfield.

“The toughest thing is finding quality candidates to fill positions,” he says. “We’re seeing this as not just an event for people running for office but for people who are single-issue or limited-issue lobbyists and want to be more effective at what they’re doing.”

Robert Knodell
Robert Knodell

The hope is that this won’t be the last of these types of events, he adds. During an off year, like 2013, this one large event will likely be the only one like it, but during election years Justice says here will be more opportunities.

Robert Knodell, a consultant with Barklage and Knodell, says during his years of experience with campaigns, he has found it’s important to prepare candidates at all levels, be it municipal, school boards or legislative, with the type of training that Saturday will bring.

“The nature of campaigns change over time,” he says. “As you run the race for state legislature for the first time, you realize it’s different than the race for school board. All are very different, and very important.”

Knodell’s class will be about media relations, which he says is extremely important since many first-time candidates have never been in the public light before like they are once they file.

Learning to write press releases, how to speak to the media, providing media with file photos, the difference between on and off the record and speaking on the radio all are areas Knodell hopes to cover during his session.

“These trainings occur all over the country,” he says. “We want to make sure we’re preparing our candidates the best way possible.”

The event goes from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Tinnin Fine Arts Center in Poplar Bluff, Mo. Registration will be available at the door for $25.