This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 20, 2011 - As expected, the Missouri Democratic State Committee on Saturday elected Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders as the new state Democratic Party chairman and St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green as the new vice chair.
Sanders replaces former state Auditor Susan Montee, who had announced a week ago that she was stepping down to devote her attention to her 2012 campaign for lieutenant governor.
The former vice-chair, Bob Levine of St. Louis County, was elected the new DNC committeeman.
The election was conducted via conference call.
"I'm honored by this opportunity to ensure we elect Democrats across the state who will fight to create jobs, fight for the middle class and keep Missouri moving forward," Sanders said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work alongside our new vice-chair, Darlene Green, so Missouri Democrats have the grassroots support and resources they need to win in 2012."
Sanders was lauded in statements issued by Gov. Jay Nixon and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who will be the state's two top Democrats on the 2012 ballot -- and who will be among those relying the most on the state's party's operations.
"With Mike Sanders at the helm, the Missouri Democratic Party is strongly positioned to win races from the top of the ticket on down," said McCaskill, a former Jackson County prosecutor. "Mike's work, as county executive and as former Jackson County prosecutor, has earned praise and garnered incredible respect across the state of Missouri. We're lucky to have Mike on board and look forward to working with him toward a successful election night in November 2012."
Said Nixon: "Mike Sanders is one of our state's most skilled and respected leaders. As the Jackson County Executive, Mike has a record of bringing people together to balance his budget and help businesses create jobs. And on the campaign trail, Mike has shown himself to be a relentless candidate who knows how to win tough races. His record of accomplishment, both in public office and on the campaign trail, make him the clear choice to lead the Missouri Democratic Party in 2012."
Green said, "I'm truly looking forward to working with Mike to ensure that all Missouri Democrats have a voice within the party. We have a lot of work to get done in order to be successful and I'm honored to be a part of such a great team that knows how to win elections and fight for the values we all hold dear."
Democrats Decide on Delegate-selection Plan
Also on Saturday morning, the state committee approved its plan for selecting delegates for the 2012 presidential convention. It will support the Feb. 7 primary, since the General Assembly declined to shift the election to March as sought by both national parties.
State Democrats plan to "file a waiver request with the Democratic National Committee to avoid any sanctions," the party said in a statement.
Missouri Republicans plan to award their delegates during the caucus process that begins in March. The state GOP has said it won't use the results of the February primary.
Even so, eight of the Republican presidential candidates have filed as candidates in Missouri's presidential primary. President Barack Obama has filed in the Democratic primary.