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Missouri Top Democrat Leaders Regroup Three Weeks After Nov. 2

November 23, 2004
By: Katheryn Mohr
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - In the aftermath of the Democratic losses in Missouri on election day, top Missouri Democratic leaders met three weeks later to discuss the framework for the future of the party.

In January, Democrats will hold two fewer statewide offices, three less Senate seats and seven fewer House seats.

Democratic Chairman Roger Wilson said the Democratic Party is looking forward to increasing its numbers in the House of Representatives and in the Senate in 2006, while also re-electing the most independent and effective state auditor in state history.

"Everyone seemed really energized and ready to progress to the 2006 elections," Wilson said.

He said the focus of the meeting was to discuss the framework needed to accomplish these goals but as of yet, no specific strategies have been reached.

State Auditor McCaskill, who was one of the attendees of the metting, said one of the things the Democratic party needs to look at when coming up with a strategy for 2006 is the way in which the party formulates its message.

"Most importantly we need to work on how we address issues that are not only important to voters but Democrats as well," McCaskill said.

McCaskill said Republicans were sucessful in using social issues as a way to drive the emotional level of their support base because Democrats made the assumption that voters knew where they stood on such issues as the institution of marriage and abortion.

"There is a tendancy for Democrats to not talk about their faith and value-centered issues," McCaskill said.

"I think it is important to get these messages across and to not be afraid to talk about our faith and the traditional values that we embrace.

Senate Minority Leader Maida Coleman, another attendee at the meeting, said Republicans used social wedge issues as instruments of terror and doom to win this election.

"It is the oldest trick in the book," Coleman said.

But Coleman said it is only a matter of time before voters realize that the goals and principles of the Democratic party are much, much more in line with average Americans than those of the Republican party.

"The Republican party engaged in what I believe was fear mongering and intolerance to win this election, and extremism of any form is not tolerated long in America," Coleman said.

Coleman said the Democratic Party needs to remain strong in its belief that it is doing the right thing-ethically, morally and socially. And is that persistence she says that will bring voters back in time.

"I predict that within the next four years, a vast majority of people who voted Republican this year will thump their foreheads and say 'What was I thinking?'"

But until then Wilson said the Democrats will work openly with Republicans to continue to represent the interests of Missourians throughout the state.

"It will be a major adjustment this legislative session to work as the minority but we will work to make that transition as quickly and smoothly as we can," Wilson said

But McCaskill said voters should not mourn the death of the Democratic party just yet.

"Anyone who is saying the coffin is nailed on the Democratic party is going to be suprised because that is definately not the case," McCaskill said.

"The Democrats have a very strong message and as long as we work together to better portray that message to voters the Democrats will once again see victory in this state."