“I will hand over the party to the next administration and leadership in a healthy financial, party structure, and operational position so it may get off on a running start for 2021, 2022, and beyond,” Gepford said in an email to the state and executive committee provided to The Missouri Times. “I will make myself available to help with the transition, pending my availability and whether new leadership desires my help with the transition.”
Gepford said her priorities for the next month are documenting infrastructure and procedural trainings, creating recommendations on needs and processes, completing the 10 year strategic plan, shutting down the coordinated campaign, ensuring cash flow returns to non-cycle status, and helping recently laid off staff with networking and next ventures, among a multitude of other things.
“This is my third time working for the State Party. In this post, I have visited 75 counties and have had the pleasure of having visited every county in Missouri throughout my time working in Democratic politics here,” Gepford said. “I will always carry a part of this organization in my heart. I’ve known some state and local committee members for over a decade and consider many of you my friends as well as my colleagues.”
As for the new leadership, Gepford implored the party to be careful about focusing too much on social media or “asserting that rural or urban or suburban Missouri are singularly the key to clawing back to power.”
“I want folks to know that not all hope is lost in Missouri, but as I’ve said since I started in this job last January, there is a long road to rebuilding. We were unable to break the status quo this year, and while our goals were much higher and the polling and pundits said we’d do better and our hopes were inflated, this was not as bad of a year as 2010 or 2014 for Missouri Democrats. But, there is still more that can and must do better. I urge you to listen to one another with open minds, take the constructive criticism, and put it to work, learn to disregard some of the hot takes and Monday morning quarterbacking, and use this time for constructive conservations, analysis, and self reflection rather than tearing one another down.”
As for victories this cycle, Gepford pointed to the Building Blue program that paid the party’s interns, opposition research and polling teams, and the rebuilding of relationships with progressive groups like MOVE Action.
Gepford has served in the executive director role since January 2019. Prior to that, she worked for former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen in his bid for the U.S. Senate and has assisted in a few state representative campaigns in Missouri.
Republicans dominated the 2020 election cycle in Missouri, handedly winning the gubernatorial race and other statewide elected offices. Sens. Caleb Rowden and Andrew Koenig cruised to victories in their respective Senate districts despite strong Democratic challengers. And as far as the House was concerned, Democrats only managed to flip one seat following a recount.
Gepford previously told The Missouri Times she enjoyed tough competitions and “the hardest battles.”
“I don’t typically want races that are obvious wins for Democrats. That’s what motivates me. If we were a blue state, I think I would find the job much less interesting and challenging,” Gepford said.
Gepford’s resignation is effective as of Dec. 13, and she has not yet revealed what’s next.
“The Missouri Democratic Party is not, nor as it ever been, just one person or a group of people. The party is neither just the chair, nor the officers, nor the committee members, nor the staff,” Gepford said. “It is all Democrats in Missouri, including the 1.2 million of them who voted this year, and the 1.5 million or more who can, must, and will vote in the future.”
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.