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Meet Betsy Fogle, the Springfield Democrat who flipped a House seat

While other incoming legislators knew the fate of their campaigns after Election Day, incoming Rep. Betsy Fogle had to wait more than a week to confirm her victory with a recount. Now, she’s looking forward to her time in the statehouse.

Fogle overcame GOP incumbent Rep. Steve Helms for the HD 135 seat, the only flip from red to blue in the House this year. The race was close enough to lead to a recount after Fogle came out ahead by a mere .2 percent of the vote, well within Missouri’s threshold for a recount. Fogle maintained her victory after the challenge, officially winning by 76 votes.

“I decided to run because I wanted to change the narrative here in Missouri, win or lose,” she told The Missouri Times. “As months went by, it became clear we had a shot at winning the election. We knocked so many doors and made so many calls. I woke up on Election Day with a million outcomes in my head, but I never imagined it would be such a narrow margin that we’d have to do a recount. It was a long week, but it’s one more experience to help make me a strong elected official.”

Fogle gave credit for her win to the volunteers and interns who worked on her campaign, saying the seat-flip demonstrated the community’s desire for change. She said she didn’t take the outcome lightly and saw her community wanted the same changes she did. 

Fogle, a lifelong Springfield resident, has worked at a local community health center since graduating from college. She Initially worked to help connect patients with clinical and social services before taking an administrative position, overseeing more than 50 employees for the last four years. She said both roles would be influential in her time in the legislature.

“My whole career has been in public health,” she said. “I think it’s both prepared me from an information standpoint and a skillset standpoint. Being looked to as a leader, especially during a time like the last 10 months when things were shaky in the health care area, it’s definitely given me experience being a calming presence and making quick decisions, even during unprecedented times, and I definitely plan to carry those skills with me.”

Fogle said House Minority Floor Leader Rep. Crystal Quade, who also represents part of Springfield, approached her about running for the statehouse. 

“Getting involved in politics was something that I’d always wanted to do, but I didn’t necessarily see myself as the candidate,” she said. “I was always interested in supporting health care through policy, but didn’t see myself running for office — but when asked to better our community, we jump in and do it. It took me about 10 minutes to decide I was going to run, and then I spent the next year and a half campaigning.”

She said her main focus going into the legislature would be Medicaid expansion and COVID-19, two issues she had plenty of experience with this year. 

Fogle encouraged other Missourians to get involved in the political process, whether by a ballot or with a bid of their own.

“I hope people know that democracy works and that their vote matters — our race really demonstrates that,” she said. “Nothing is special about me; I’m just a person with passion who worked to make their community better, and anyone can do the same thing if they put their mind to it.”

Tuesday was the first day for the Missouri Legislature to pre-file bills. Fogle hasn’t yet submitted any bills.