Tuesday’s General Election saw a Republican sweep of Missouri’s top offices, as well as the election of Republican President-Elect Donald Trump. Local political leaders from both parties have accepted the outcome, and both agree that more work is still to come.
Missouri’s governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer are now Republicans, along with supermajorities in both legislative chambers. Come January, the only Democrat in a top Missouri office will be Auditor Nicole Galloway, who was appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon last year after the death of Republican Auditor Tom Schweich.
“I think it’s absolutely fantastic, the state house and White House have the opportunity to lead now, that’s what they need to do,” said Pettis County Republican Chairperson Carla Young. “With Congress on both levels in control with the Republicans, they have a unique opportunity to move legislation and get some stuff done for the people.”
For the Democrats in Pettis County, the results were obviously disappointing, but they’re already trying to look forward.
“I was a little saddened with the results, but we all have to get over it, he’s our president and we hope he can do a good job,” said Pettis County Democrat Central Committee Chairperson Mike Franklin. “We need to quit calling people names and being mean, that’s not going to solve a problem. Do the best we can do, that’s what makes all of us Americans.”
Both local parties hosted a watch party Tuesday evening to watch the election results roll in. Young said they stuck around until Pennsylvania was called, then most headed home to finish watching as a late results lull kicked in. Franklin said Democrats stayed at their watch party until around 11. Both described starkly different atmospheres.
“At the beginning everyone was just curious and questioning, then once Trump started picking up before it got to a stopping point for other states to come in, everybody was so excited and charged up,” Young said. “People didn’t start leaving until after some time during that space, then went home and finished watching on TV. We were so thrilled and excited, all very proud.”
“It was disappointing of course when we started seeing it was turning around to the other party,” Franklin said. “It was kind of like the year (Al) Gore lost, he got the popular vote but lost the electoral college — that’s what surprised me, that (Trump) got 279 and she got 228 (electoral college votes), that surprised me. But the people have spoken, life goes on.”
Young, who also serves as Chairperson for the 4th Congressional District and 52nd Legislative District, attended the Republican National Convention in July as an alternate delegate and she said she knew even then Trump would “make a great president.”
“I think he’ll do the things he promised he’d do, just like (Governor-Elect Eric) Greitens, not ever being in the political eye, he’ll have a new perspective on how things should be done,” Young said. “… All of us including myself are looking to Trump and the governor to make sure we make progress. The country made a clear message. Trump, look at what he did, it’s a sea of red out there if you look at it by county.
“It’s time to follow through on promises,” she added. “It’s going to take more than the first 100 days, it will take some time, but I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Young said there weren’t any surprising results, as she said she expected several races, including president, governor and lieutenant governor, to be closer than what actually happened.
“We were just happy,” she said. “We haven’t had that many (open offices available) at one time, so we assumed we wouldn’t get them all, so it was pure joy.”
Franklin said he was surprised by the U.S. Senate race between Roy Blunt and Jason Kander, especially with how close the results were. He was also surprised by Greitens’ defeat of Chris Koster.
According to the Associated Press, Missouri’s Republican sweep can be traced back to 2001 when the GOP won control of the Senate for the first time in more than 50 years, but they lost ground in 2008 when Democrats won almost every statewide executive office. 2012 elections helped to start reversing that trend.
Young was packing up the Pettis County Republican Headquarters Wednesday and she said people were still stopping by to get Trump bumper stickers and signs.
“It energizes us to keep pushing forward. It also comes with responsibility to watch and make sure governing is happening,” Young said of the statewide sweep. “Most of us have no problem with contacting representatives and state senators, the governor’s office, and that’s why our form of government works. We’ll all watch and give them time to settle in, then it’s time to govern for all of us.”
“(The sweep) is discouraging to the Democratic Party but it’s not gong to slow us down,” Franklin said. “We’ll still be working for the next four years, that’s for sure.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.