Democrat Days | St. Louis Public Radio

Democrat Days

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

After stepping to the lectern for his keynote address Saturday night, Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber recounted his pitch from last year’s Democrat Days in Hannibal. After his party’s disastrous 2016 election cycle, Webber told his fellow Democrats that they had a “moral obligation” to oppose President Donald Trump.

This year, Webber placed an amendment on that comment. He told the packed banquet hall that Democrats “have a moral obligation to stand up and oppose what Gov. Eric Greitens is doing here in Missouri.”

Democrat Days co-founder John Yancey walks into a brunch event at Democrat Days in Hannibal.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

HANNIBAL — Near the beginning of her remarks at one of her party’s most endearing Democratic gatherings, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill took a moment to pay tribute to a longtime friend and onetime rival.

She heaped praise Saturday on former Gov. Bob Holden, who McCaskill upended in a heated 2004 primary. As Holden listened on, McCaskill noted that Democrats held the Missouri governorship for 20 years where “there was never a whiff of personal scandal.”

“These guys are in there for less than a year and it’s a mess,” said McCaskill, to a round of applause.

Missouri Democrats gathered the weekend of March 3, 2017  in Hannibal, Mo.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

HANNIBAL, Mo. – In a political sense, Missouri Democrats gathered this weekend in enemy territory.

The party’s annual Democrat Days, held in Mark Twain’s hometown, now takes place in the midst of Republican turf.  About three-quarters of the ballots cast last fall in northeast Missouri went for now-President Donald Trump. In the Hannibal area, as in the rest of rural Missouri, no Democrat running for statewide office attracted more than one-third of the vote.

Attorney General Chris Koster kicks off his gubernatorial campaign at Missouri Democrat Days.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

In the latest Politically Speaking podcast, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum use a different format to focus on Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, the likely Democratic nominee for governor.

Last weekend at Democrat Days in Hannibal, Koster delivered his first major speech since filing for office. Afterwards, he talked with Jo Mannies extensively on a variety of issues – from campaign-finance reform to the Ferguson unrest.

File Photo

Northeast Missouri no longer votes for many Democrats, either to the General Assembly or for statewide office.

Even so, many of Missouri’s most prominent Democrats will be in Hannibal this weekend to participate in a tradition that has gone on for decades. Some of northeast Missouri's remaining Democrats will be hosting the 45th annual Democrat Days, the first of a series of regional gatherings around the state that go on for months.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who is expected to run for governor in 2016, delivered a verbal broadside Saturday night to Republican legislative leaders, as he accused them of being out not only to cripple labor but to destroy the state’s middle class.

“This way of life is going to slip away,” Koster said, as he blasted GOP measures to curb union rights. He painted portraits of workers engaging in physically demanding jobs like setting tile and laying concrete, and who – without union protections -- see their pay cut in half and their benefits such as pensions and health insurance disappear.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In his first political address since taking office, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander readily embraced a new role Saturday as Democratic attack dog as he fired off a series of jabs and quips directed at top Republicans who, he joked, still want to ignore his election.

Kander’s brunch audience at the party’s annual Democrat Days in Hannibal, Mo., applauded as he took issue with state Auditor Tom Schweich’s recent advice to fellow Republicans that the best way to counter the GOP’s dismal statewide showing last fall was to offer up “more competent candidates.”