Missouri’s 97th House District drew national attention last winter when the seat that’s been held by Republicans for the better part of a decade was flipped in a February special election.
News of the change was part of the buzz about a potential blue wave in traditionally Republican districts.
Now, incumbent Democrat Mike Revis is trying to hold onto the seat in a race with Republican Mary Elizabeth Coleman.
The district is mostly in Jefferson County, with a tiny part of south St. Louis County that’s split from the rest of the district by the Meramec River. Labor, abortion and gun issues have historically been the most important for district voters.
Revis said he thinks the district will get national attention again in the Nov. 6 election.
“I think people will have eyes on Missouri when it comes to this race,” Revis said. “They certainly did when they saw the outcome of the right-to-work vote and now they’re going to see is Missouri gonna to follow through and elect the candidates that have their best interest in mind?”
Coleman thinks Revis is putting all his eggs in one basket, running so strongly on a pro-labor platform.
“I think our district really is about 50-50 Republicans and Democrats. But, I think most of those people are pro-labor, pro-life, pro-Second amendment,” Coleman said. “And whether you’re Republican or Democrat is more historically about who your family has been than the national party referendum.”
Coleman calls herself a “fresh conservative voice.”
“These values about local control and making sure that we’re doing things to support the local economy is something I’ve been fighting for my entire career,” she said.
Her platform is centered on fully funding education in the district, bringing jobs through entrepreneurship and encouraging small businesses, and tackling flooding that’s recently plagued the district.
“That flooding affects our community more than anything else,” said Coleman.
The Republican is also enthusiastic about providing parents with a choice in where their kids go to school.
“Education and workforce development are at the heart of so many issues within our community — everything from making sure our kids have access to a world class education — but it supports the property tax values and it supports the investment in the community.”
Revis, also wants to increase education funding in the district as well as lower health care costs.
“Well certainly defending labor will continue to be my priority. Not my only focus, but certainly my priority,” he said. “If we’re able to get some more Democrats down there then that might help us to push more things like Medicaid and Medicare expansion and making sure that we’re funding some of our most vulnerable citizens to get access to health care that they need.”
Revis is also in favor of prioritizing funding for STEM education, as well as bolstering school safety in the district.
Whichever candidate voters choose will determine whether a socially conservative and blue collar district, like the 97th, could be part of a potential blue wave.
Follow Abigail Censky on Twitter: @AbigailCensky