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Politically Speaking: Webber on Missouri Democrats’ climb back from electoral oblivion

Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber was the keynote speaker at the 2018 Democrat Days in Hannibal.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
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Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber was the keynote speaker at the 2018 Democrat Days in Hannibal.

Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies to talk about how Democrats are stacking up in next week’s election.

Both Webber and Missouri Republican Party Chairman Todd Graves recorded episodes of Politically Speaking. You can listen to Graves’ episode by clicking here.

Webber is a former state representative from Columbia who was elected in 2016 as party chairman. The 35-year-old took on that role after narrowly losing a state Senate race to Republican Caleb Rowden.

Since becoming chairman, Webber has been traveling all over the state to rebuild the party after the 2016 election. He’s placed an emphasis on fielding more candidates in state legislative races — instead of letting Republicans run unopposed. And he’s also sought to foster a more aggressive get-out-the-vote effort to help U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and state Auditor Nicole Galloway win their elections.

The stakes are high on Tuesday. If McCaskill and Galloway don’t win, it could be a bad harbinger for Missouri Democrats’ chances at gaining ground in the 2020 election cycle — when GOP incumbents for five statewide offices will be on the ballot.

Here’s what Webber had to say during the program:

  • He lamented the demise of former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned this year. Greitens supported Webber’s first bid for office in 2008. But Webber was a vocal critic after Greitens became a Republican. “It had become clear to me over the last couple years that he didn’t have any sort of moral core,” he said. “But I guess I still thought that was more at a political level than a human level.”
  • He’s hoping that his party can keep the momentum going after capturing a House seat in Jefferson County and a Senate spot based in Clay County. “We’ve had a really good regular season so far,” he said. “On Nov. 6th, that’s going to be the Super Bowl.”
  • Webber said Democrats across the state are becoming better organized — pointing to volunteers in Putnam County starting a phone bank. “I think that the enthusiasm is closer to 2008 than anything I’ve seen in the last 10 years,” he said.
  • One major advantage Democrats have with McCaskill, Webber said, is that there’s “probably nobody active in politics now” that has the “depth of experience, the body of the work and the relationship with Missouri voters.” She really has an independent personality that I think voters connect with.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Stephen Webber on Twitter: @s_webber

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
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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