The progressive activist group Indivisible staged a town hall meeting last night in Springfield, where it criticized the region’s GOP congressman.
Indivisible’s Springfield and Joplin chapters held a meeting under the theme “Where is Billy Long”, referring to the Republican 7th District Congressman. The group had invited Long to the gathering at the at the Schweitzer Brentwood Library in Springfield.
The District’s Democratic Chair, Krista Stark, claims Long has said he has never been to a town hall. She disparaged the Congressman for failing to interact one-on-one with constituents.
“A congressperson has many jobs,” said Stark. “To represent their constituents, to do the people’s work. And part of that entails listening to their constituents’ pain in person. He cannot know the things we are going through unless he has face-to-face interaction with us and listens to our concerns as constituents.”
Indivisible has been active since the election of Donald Trump, holding events to oppose to the President and Republican priorities in 2017.
The organization is the brainchild of Democratic Congressional staffers who wrote a handbook which provided guidelines for resisting the conservative platform. Its activities are patterned after the Tea Party movement that strove to obstruct Democratic objectives on a local level after the election of Barack Obama in 2008.
The event in Springfield follows the groups playbook of targeting Republican Congressional members by calling and visiting their offices, as well as attending town halls.
The few GOP town halls held across the country this year have been confrontational, often with hostile audience members attacking Senators and Representatives over Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
As a result, members of Missouri’s Republican delegation to Washington have made few public appearances in 2017, choosing instead to hold private gatherings or have conference calls with constituents.
4th District GOP Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler held a rare 2017 public forum Wednesday, but only kids high school age and younger were allowed to ask questions. Earlier this year, Hatzler commented that town halls “just aren’t that productive right now as we’ve seen nationwide”.
Long has held the 7th District seat since 2011, after then incumbent Roy Blunt was elected the U.S. Senate. The region is often been characterized by people within it, as well as other Missourians, as “the bible belt”.
Three Republicans and one Democrat have entered the 7th District race in the 2018 election, none of which appear to be well financed. Long has raised $557,468.50 in 2017. As of September 30th, he had $600,000 on hand.
Long was an early backer of President Trump during the 2016 election cycle. He criticized fellow Republicans who withheld support after unflattering events involving Trump emerged in the media.
Missourinet media partner KOLR covered the Springfield Indivisible event and provided content for this story