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Recent polls prompt area Democrats to dream of possible Clinton win in Missouri

Supporters pack the St. Louis for Hillary Clinton campaign office. Some took photos with the life-size cardboard cutout of Clinton in the background on Aug. 24, 2016
Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio
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As St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay sees it, the crowd that packed Hillary Clinton’s new local office Tuesday night could help persuade her Democratic presidential campaign to direct more attention — and resources to Missouri.

Win or lose, such action could help the state’s entire Democratic ticket.

“We need to show the support is here, to pull her over the top,’’ Slay told reporters, shortly before addressing the shoulder-to-shoulder audience that spilled onto the sidewalk outside the Clinton campaign office at 4039 Lindell Blvd.

“We’re hoping to make sure to convince the Hillary Clinton campaign that the state is in play,’’ the mayor added.

Slay is among the area Democratic activists who are heartened by recent Missouri polls – the latest out Tuesday – that showed Clinton just barely trailing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. (Critics note, however, that the polls' sample sizes were small, which substantially increases their error margins.)

Trump long has been considered the favorite to carry Missouri in November, in part because it’s been 20 years since a presidential Democrat – Bill Clinton – won the state (and its then-11 electoral votes. Now, the state has 10).

But the fact that Trump’s campaign announced this week that he’s hiring two prominent Missouri Republican consultants, and opening a state office, is seen by many activists in both parties as evidence that Missouri isn’t a GOP lock.

Democrats encouraged by enthusiasm

The region’s Democratic optimism was on display at the opening of the new Clinton campaign office. LaDonna Appelbaum, vice president of the Maryland Heights Township Democratic Club, said she’s excited about the prospect of electing the nation’s first woman president.

In her opinion, Clinton also is the best qualified candidate. “I believe Hillary has what it takes. Her experience, her knowledge, her compassion, everything is going to make her a great 45th president.”

SlayatClintonevent082316.jpg
Credit Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio
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St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay maneuvers through crowd of fellow Clinton supporters.

Appelbaum added that she’s particularly upbeat because of many of her friends who had backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primaries “are now on board’’ with Clinton.

Slay said he’d love to see Missouri move Clinton’s way.

“This is a state that has really mattered in the past,’’ he said. “We used to be a bellwether.”

Slay added that his interest wasn’t just political. “I want St. Louis to be relevant on the national scale,” he said. “That’s another reason why I’m here. Cities need a president who has interests in urban areas.”

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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