The new leader of the Missouri Democratic Party doesn’t believe the party’s future is as bleak as the November 2nd election might indicate.
State Auditor Susan Montee moves into the chairmanship of the Missouri Democratic State Committee after she moves out of the auditor’s office. Montee says changes need to be made for Democrats to win at the polls once again.
“Well, I think a lot of what happened to us this year really was a problem with messaging,” according to Montee.
Part of the problem, as Montee sees it, is the perception that Democrats in Washington reflect the values of Democrats in Missouri.
“One of the things that is a challenge for us as Democrats here in the state of Missouri is to make people understand what we stand for and that all Democrats really aren’t the same,” Montee says.
Montee asserts that Missouri Democrats suffered from the negative image of Democrats in Washington. She points out that many state representative and state senate races became referendums on the federal health-care bill and the spending habits of United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama. Montee says Democrats allowed Republicans to turn the politics of Missouri into a referendum on Washington. She says the state races need to focus on the work of Democrats at the State Capitol in Jefferson City on behalf of ordinary Missourians.
The assertion that messaging doomed Democrats on Election Day seems to run against the facts. Republicans swept to astonishing victories throughout the state, ushering them into unprecedented power in the state legislature with commanding majorities both in the Missouri House and Missouri Senate.
Montee, though, rejects the notion that the problems plaguing Democrats might run deeper than messaging. She says it depends on who the audience is.
“It’s not as much messaging and trying to convince people to change their minds, but telling people why it’s important to go to the polls and why it does make a difference and that everything isn’t a lost cause is also a part of messaging,” says Montee.
Montee points to data from Election Day to back her point. She says Democrats suffered lop-sided losses November 2nd, because many Missouri Democrats stayed home. Montee says the so-called “enthusiasm gap” was real. Republicans entered the elections fired up. Democrats became discouraged.
The Democratic State Committee elected Montee, despite her own election loss. Montee failed to win re-election November 2nd, losing to Republican Tom Schweich. Montee replaces former state representative Craig Hosmer, a Springfield lawyer, who did not seek another two-year term as party leader. Montee, 51, is from St. Joseph.