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Missouri Democrats look to reorganize, increase rural involvement

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Over the course of the next month, the Missouri Democratic Party will reorganize its operations, holding elections for people hoping to get more involved in the party structure.

The biennial process entails elections at levels ranging from county to statewide, taking place mostly from the middle of August to mid-September. County committees have already held their elections, legislative district committee elections will last until Saturday and senatorial, congressional and judicial district elections will take place in the next three weeks.

MDP Executive Director Crystal Brinkley said she hopes the reorganization will give the party new perspectives as new leaders come into the fold. She especially hopes to shine a light on rural Democrats who may not hold as much prominence within the party as members from St. Louis and Kansas City

“From Sullivan County to the bootheel to St. Louis to Jackson County, I look at this as a really good opportunity to shine some light on the rural parts of the state and point out there are Democrats north and south of I-70.”

The rural outreach angle appears to be a theme for Democrats this election cycle. Attorney General Chris Koster has won the endorsement of numerous influential agriculture groups like the Missouri Farm Bureau and the Missouri Corn Growers in his run for governor. In a Missouri State Fair straw poll, Koster edged out his Republican opponent, former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, while the other Democrats lost by substantial margins to their Republican opponents

Brinkley said that Koster’s candidacy was “refreshing” for the party.

“This process brings some folks to the surface that weren’t necessarily as involved in previous years for whatever reason,” she said. “Chris Koster gives them a breath of life that there is a Missouri Democratic Party in rural Missouri.”

The passage of Rep. Tony Duggar’s HB 1477 has also shifted the paradigm of reorganization. It will allow proxy voting if authorized by either party; changed criteria for the membership of congressional, senatorial, and judicial district committees; and requires that all committees must have a man and woman serving as chair and vice-chair and as secretary and treasurer (not respectively) of the committee. Brinkley said some of those changes threw some members of the party for a loop.