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Missouri Rising shifts focus to pushing for legislative policies

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s journey as a red state made a giant swing in November, and one of the major players in pushing the conservative message has now shifted their focus from campaigns to policy.

Missouri Rising first made their name during the months building up to the election, but after a dominating win by Republicans, the organization now looks to promote conservative policies during the legislative session.

“We want to make sure that, with the conservative policies that they’re pushing, there’s an organization on the outside that’s reaching Missourians directly and emphasizing the work that lawmakers are doing in pursuing conservative policies,” Jeremy Adler, communications director for Missouri Rising, said.

The group is an off-shoot of America Rising Squared (AR2), a national 501(c)(4) organization, or political action committee (PAC).

America Rising’s website says they are focused on advancing conservative principles through cutting-edge research, rapid response communications, a nationwide tracking network, and digital platforms. It was first formed in 2013, and after their success, they decided to create their first state initiative in Missouri: right-to-work.

“We want to get out accurate facts about right-to-work, about the jobs it will create and the economic opportunity it will bring. Without right-to-work, it’s made the state less competitive with neighboring states, so we want to help get the message out there,” Adler said. “For too long, forced unionization and other policies have hurt the state’s economy, creating a business climate that discourages hiring, investment, and growth. Passing right-to-work is a key step in the fight for freedom and opportunity for Missouri’s working men and women, and Missouri Rising is very proud to be a part of it.”

To do this, Adler says, Missouri Rising investigates and holds liberal groups accountable by fact-checking and making sure citizens have the most up-to-date information on a given issue. They are implementing many of the tactics used by America Rising and in their efforts during the 2016 campaign season, including video tracking, opposition research, direct mail and advertising in television or radio.

Adler also says they work with other right-to-work supporters in their efforts to work against the opponents’ efforts to scuttle the initiative.

In early January, Missouri Rising announced they had partnered with lobbyist Mark Rhoads, utilizing his more than three decades in public affairs to push their agenda in the legislature.

“I’m proud to work with Missouri Rising and support efforts to finally pass right-to-work and other key legislation to extend freedom and opportunity to all Missouri workers,” Rhoads said in a statement. “In the November election, Missouri made a clear choice for new conservative leadership and common sense reforms to improve economic growth and make Missouri a more attractive destination for investment and expansion. I look forward to supporting this important effort, which is vital to the future of our state.”

But the shift from a campaign group to influencing policy is an interesting shift.

“It’s definitely new for us,” Adler said. “They just saw an opportunity in the state, given the dynamic, and thought this was a good opportunity for us to push policy in Missouri. We are a policy organization, so we do have to focus on policy, and we tried to do that through the gubernatorial campaign.”

The policies they focused on in the campaign was the candidates’ stances on right-to-work. Now that Gov. Eric Greitens won the race for governor, it has shifted it from a campaign policy issue to a legislative policy issue, for both the lawmakers and the organization.

While right-to-work has been the first and foremost priority, Adler says that may expand to other issues after the dust finally settles on right-to-work.

Missouri Rising is the only first statewide operation under America Rising, but Adler says they haven’t ruled out the possibility of creating more in other states.