By Susan Redden
The Joplin Globe
LAMAR, Mo. —
Southwest Missouri Democrats on Saturday got a pep talk from party leaders, who said they were encouraged by the crowd that turned out for the Jackson Days West dinner at the I.B.E.W. Hall on South Main Street.
The event attracted about 120 people, as well as Democratic candidates Chris Koster, running for re-election as attorney general; Jason Kander, who is running for secretary of state; and Jim Evans, who is running for U.S. representative from Missouri’s Seventh District.
Koster noted that while walking in Saturday’s Maple Leaf Festival parade in Carthage that he shook hands “with a guy whose jacket was covered with (Republican U.S. Rep. Todd) Akin stickers.
“You gotta get out there,” he told local Democrats, who are outnumbered by Republicans in Southwest Missouri. “It might seem insurmountable, but it’s not.”
Koster said his office has “stood up for the basic values of law enforcement” and characterized his party that stands for law enforcement, noting that he and Claire McCaskill, who is running against Akin for a U.S. Senate seat, both served as prosecuting attorneys.
“So when you’re talking to conservatives who believe in law enforcement, tell them the Democratic Party is their home,” Koster said.
He also cited efforts by his office to recover more than $200 million in Medicaid fraud money and a $200 million settlement from banks after the mortgage crisis.
He said Democrats such as Gov. Jay Nixon and Kander will rebuild the Democratic Party in Missouri. He paid tribute to Nixon for his work in Joplin after the May 22, 2011, tornado, bringing prolonged applause from the crowd.
Kander noted when he spoke that he worked in the House for ethics and campaign reform.
Evans, who is challenging Republican incumbent Billy Long, said when he first decided to run, he did so “because I believed the people of Southwest Missouri deserved another choice.”
A retired high school math teacher who lives on a farm in Ozark, Evans said he grew up in a family of Republicans, “so I’ll know how to work across the aisle to break the gridlock.”
He said he also would spend more time in the Seventh District meeting with residents at public forums and other events.
Ann McCaskill, speaking on behalf of her sister, characterized the gulf between the two Senate candidates as “Grand Canyon-sized.”
She noted Akin’s votes against establishing a National Sex Offender Registry and against equal pay for women.
“Todd Akin made up his mind, then he closed it,” she said.
Mark your calendar
The election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 6