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State Democrats plan for 2014, recap 2012 ups and down during Kirksville strategy session

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. — The Missouri Democratic Part held a strategy session tonight in Kirksville at which party organizers recapped 2012 experiences, provided plans for 2014 and took questions from area members.

MDP's Joe Duffy and Matt Nappe talk with northeast Missouri Democrats about what to expect in 2014.
MDP’s Joe Duffy and Matt Nappe talk with northeast Missouri Democrats about what to expect in 2014. The event took place at Pickler’s Famous in Kirksville, Tuesday evening.

Party executive director Joe Duffy and technical director Matt Nappe spoke with Democrats from the third, fourth and a few from the sixth House districts in an attempt to better understand the concerns they have, what went well in the past election and to relay some of the Party’s plans.

“Our statewide candidates did well [during 2012], but we need to take that success and localize it to win back some of these legislative seats,” Duffy said.

Before going into detail about plans for 2014, Duffy provided statistics for 25 or so attendees from 2012, point out that nine House candidates lost by less than 600 votes and seven lost by less than 1,000 votes.

In terms of future plans, Duffy listed three Senate seats that are top races and opportunities for the party:

  • – SD 10 (currently occupied by term-limited Sen. Jolie Justus, D)
  • – SD 22 (occupied by term-limited Sen. Ryan McKenna, D)
  • – SD 24 (occupied by Sen. John Lamping, R)

In the House, he pointed toward several current Democrat-held seats that are areas that likely will require extra focus to keep in 2014:

  • – John Mayfield, Jackson County
  • – Bill Otto, St. Louis
  • – Vicki Englund, St. Louis County
  • – Michael Frame, Jefferson County
  • – TJ McKenna, Jefferson County
  • – Linda Black, St. Francois County
  • – Charlie Norr, Greene County

Duffy stressed that those districts aren’t the only ones the state party will be funneling money and resources to, but said they are labeled as areas that will be extra contentious.

“Regardless of what happened before House Bill 253, we were going to be putting up a candidate and making sure we’re going to be spending significant resources in this area,” Duffy said about the third legislative district currently occupied by Rep. Nate Walker, R-Kirksville.

Currently, no Democratic candidate has announced interest in running against Walker in 2014.

After the presentations, which included a quick run through of how the party’s voter computer database worked, the audience had the chance to ask questions. One attendee expressed frustration she’s had during past campaign work when it comes to successfully contacting the Party for financial help.

“We’re not going to be able to play in every single district,” Duffy said, adding that he understands those concerns and part of the plan for 2014 is to remediate issues with responses and help. “And we’re not naïve enough to believe we are going to take the House back in one election.”

One benefit Duffy pointed out to the audience in terms of fund availability for the coming elections is the lack of the six main statewide seats on the ballot. With the top seat being state auditor, that frees up the party’s resources to focus on legislative seats.

Among the things Duffy said they have learned through these sessions in terms of rural areas versus metropolitan areas with campaign efforts is that more face time is required in the rural areas. Getting prominent officials to help with messaging and explaining what a Democratic legislator can offer could be a step toward increasing votes, he added.

“It all comes down to the fact that we need more Democrats in Jefferson City,” Duffy said. “We have great Democrats there now, but we need to aid what we already have.”

State Republican legislators, consultants and candidates are set to attend a “Campaign University” event this coming weekend hosted by the 8th Congressional District. The event seeks to prepare candidates for what to expect in the coming year — similar to the preparation aspect of the strategy sessions — among other things. Look for a story with more information about the Campaign University tomorrow on The Missouri Times.