While much of the election season has seen little activity for the party in Pettis County as many candidates face no opposition locally in the Aug. 5 primary, more than 100 people turned out to show their support for the Democratic Party Thursday evening at the 18th annual Wally McCowen Ice Cream Social.
“He (Wally) was a very prominent person in this area and was a very strong Democrat, so this is in honor of him. His wife and daughters carry on the tradition and help us raise money that we give away in scholarships,” said Donna Franklin.
The keynote speaker at the event was Nate Irvin, who is running for U.S. Representative District 4. He will face either incumbent Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler or Republican John Webb, or Libertarian candidates Randall Langkraehr or Herschel L. Young in the general election.
Irvin took the stage and spoke a little bit about his background. He is 25 years old, currently lives in Columbia and has lived in the state of Missouri his entire life. He said he decided to run because for the past four years Missourians have “paid someone more than $174,000 a year to do nothing.”
“To do nothing and say ‘no’ to everything,” Irvin said. “I’m sorry but I got tired of it and said I’m going to run for Congress. I hope all of you join me in that and I hope all across the nation we sweep them out so we can start doing something to further the country.”
The floor was then opened up for questions. The first to ask a question, quite simply, wanted to know why anyone should vote for Irvin. He responded by giving a little bit of his educational and political history before discussing an event in 2010 that put him on his path in politics.
“In 2010 I went to a town hall with a buddy of mine and saw Vicky Hartzler speak. While she was there she was saying the same thing everybody else was in 2010, just like they still are, we had to shut down the government, we had to save on everything and make cuts down the board,” Irvin said.
“So I asked her ‘well Vicky, over a third of the district, in many of the counties, half of the children have a reduced or free school lunch. So what do you intend to do about them if you’re cutting straight down the board?’ She told me, looking directly at me, ‘I believe everybody should lift themselves up by their own bootstraps.’ That’s kind of crazy, because they’re 7 years old.”
Someone in the gallery asked “are you old enough (to run for Congress)?”
“Barely. One of the first calls I ever made, a lady said ‘well you’re barely legal.’ I said ‘let’s not make that a campaign slogan.’ But yeah, I am old enough, in fact by the time of my inauguration, I will be a full 26, which is a pretty big deal,” Irvin joked.
Another questioner asked if he was receiving backing from the Democrat Party, to which he replied “yes,” and added that he has the AFL/CIO endorsement and expects to receive an endorsement from the firefighters soon, as well as the postal service and letter carriers.
More pointedly, just before his time was up, someone in the gallery asked how he would respond to the Republican Party’s stance on issues such as abortion, gun control and gay rights considering he is in a Republican-controlled district.
“I am going to work that issue very hard by just telling the truth, which is probably a crazy thing for a politician to do, but I somehow believe that’s right and what people need in a representative. Here’s where I stand specifically.
“On abortion I’m against late-term abortion, but other than that, I think it’s a privacy issue. It’s already been decided by Roe vs. Wade and there is very little that Congress can actually do despite yelling consistently about it, just to get votes. I think that it is a private matter between a woman, her doctor, her family, her minister, whoever she wants to involve in that circle but I don’t think it’s the federal government’s business.”
“On guns, I will tell you this. I like to shoot. I shoot my grandfather’s .22 quite often. I don’t think that we need 100 round magazines. I don’t think we need large extended clips. There’s not a lot of purpose for them and if you’re going hunting with them, you should really shoot better because you ought to be able to hit it in one to five shots, but not 100. So that’s where I stand.”
“I believe in equal rights for all Americans. Once again I believe that everybody should have equal protection under the law and I don’t think the federal government should legislate on what people do privately in their homes.”
After leaving the stage, Gary Grigsby, running for State Representative District 51, made a few brief remarks, asking the audience for their support, as did Carmen Smith, who is running for Associate Circuit Court Judge Division 6.
The Party also hosted a silent auction with the proceeds going toward various scholarship funds.