[SeMissourian.com] Fair ~ 88°F  
Heat Advisory
Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Democrats say 'now is time' to seize 8th District

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jack Rushin speaks at a Democratic committee candidate forum for the 8th Congressional District Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 in Poplar Bluff, Mo. Other candidates, seated from left, are Todd Mahn and state Rep. Linda Black. Ramona Fitchpatrick spoke on behalf of her husband, Markel Fitchpatrick, who was unable to attend.
(Fred Lynch) [Order this photo]
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Democratic hopefuls Sunday said the resignation of U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson last week presents the best chance their party's had in years of ending the GOP's 32-year reign over the state's 8th Congressional District.

State Rep. Linda Black speaks at a Democratic committee candidate forum for the 8th Congressional District Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 in Poplar Bluff, Mo.
(Fred Lynch)
Each of the now four Democratic candidates acknowledged at a candidates forum in Poplar Bluff that it will take hard work. But they vowed to do just that during a short campaign season that will culminate with a June special election to determine Emerson's replacement.

"We can take this district back," said candidate Todd Mahn, a funeral-home director from De Soto, Mo. "We just have to ask ourselves if we are better off today. We're not the poorest district in the state for no reason."

Mahn, who toyed with the idea of running against Emerson last year, was joined by a growing list of Democratic candidates, including state Rep. Linda Black of Bonne Terre, Mo., chiropractor Jack Rushin of Poplar Bluff and word of new entry Mark Fitchpatrick, a former mayor of Blodgett, Mo.

Fitchpatrick was not in attendance Sunday afternoon, but his wife, Ramona, said he had a prior commitment to his job and that her husband keeps his commitments.

Her husband did not make the decision to enter the race lightly, Ramona Fitchpatrick said, and they discussed the pressures and scrutiny that often come with campaigns.

"We understand our lives will be an open book," Ramona Fitchpatrick said. "We know the media can be cruel and condescending."

Todd Mahn speaks at a Democratic committee candidate forum for the 8th Congressional District Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 in Poplar Bluff, Mo.
(Fred Lynch)
But the goal is worth fighting for and one she said her husband comprehends. She pointed out that, while her husband was mayor only for two years, he helped the Scott County village secure grants for its public water supply and knew how to get the parties to work together.

The rest of the forum at St. Andrew Lutheran Church focused on the economy, candidate experience, education, agricultural issues and Social Security, during the hourlong forum that was largely a question-and-answer session with the questions predetermined.

Black spoke of her experience in Jefferson City, Mo., where she has been a state representative since 2008. Democrats need to reclaim their message if they hope to reclaim a seat that hasn't been occupied by a Democrat since the early 1980s, she said.

"I'm known to be tenacious in Jefferson City," Black said. " ... Thirty-two years of the Emerson name has not gotten the 8th District anywhere."

She represents, she said, Democrats who are conservative on social issues, and noted that she is pro-life.

"It is possible that Democrats are going to rise again," she said.

Jack Rushin speaks at a Democratic committee candidate forum for the 8th Congressional District Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 in Poplar Bluff, Mo.
(Fred Lynch)
About 70 people gathered for the forum that was made uncertain by 8th Congressional District Democratic leaders who first described it as a nominating meeting, then as a forum that was closed to the press and public and then late Saturday said the committee meeting was a candidate forum open to the public.

The GOP was critical Saturday before Democrats settled on the meeting as a candidates' forum. Going back and forth and being indecisive, said Missouri Republican Party spokesman Jonathon Prouty, is just the latest in a series of missteps that he said shows the party is in disarray.

Last week, the Democratic committee announced they would select their candidate at the Sunday meeting, but then changed the date, without explanation, to Feb. 9. On Thursday, Democratic committee chairman Art Cole announced his resignation. And late Sunday he explained why.

Cole said rumors that he resigned because of frustration weren't true. He said he simply made the decision, at age 71, to cut back and focus his energies on his role as chairman of the state's 25th legislative district. Vice-chairwoman Cindy Jenks will serve as acting chairwoman.

Whether the party's meeting could have been legally closed isn't readily apparent. In Missouri, political party committees are established by state law, including specifics such as when the committees are to meet and that each committee is to name a man and woman to chair and vice-chair positions.

The Missouri Sunshine Law governs quasi-public governmental bodies, in addition to public governmental bodies. Public governmental bodies are defined by the Sunshine Law as any legislative, administrative or governmental entity created by the constitution or statutes of the state or by order or ordinance of any political subdivision or district.

The latest opinion on the matter from a Missouri attorney general came from John Ashcroft in February 1979. It addressed specifics of the voting process. In 1976, Attorney General John Danforth issued an opinion that answered public body and Sunshine Law questions. A copy of the latter opinion is linked on the attorney general's website. However, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Koster's office was not aware of the opinion when the Southeast Missourian inquired Friday about the committees' status as a public body and the Sunshine Law.



Pertinent address:

2750 N. Westwood Blvd., Poplar Bluff, Mo.

Fact Check
See inaccurate information in this story?

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on semissourian.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

While it is likely the Dems best chance at winning the district in a few decades the only way they could take advantage of this kind of shortened election is if they had a candidate who was either famous enough that almost every member of the public knew their name or if they were rich enough to be willing to spend several million out of their own pocket making their name that well known.

None of these candidates have either of those attributes so the absolute best these candidates could hope for is to at least get half as many votes as the Republican candidate and narrowly avoid losing by a 2 to 1 margin yet again.

-- Posted by Nil on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 12:21 AM

Out of due respect Nil I wouldn't count the democrats out of this up-coming congressional election. I don't believe this is going to be a blow out like it has been for the past 32 years. The democrats more then likely will run there conservative democratic candidate from Jefferson County which is well known in the Jefferson County region which is heavily populated and also the democratic nominee will carry the bootheel, Ste Gen and St Francis county areas. This will be a close race between I believe the democratic and republican nominee it will not be like it has been in the past. This district is ranked the 9th poorest out of 435 congressional districts in the nation this has got worse each year and the dems will focus on that. The dems will be well funded on this one. Good race between the two nominees my opinion only.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 6:02 AM

The obstacles facing the Democrats are as follows: A dysfunctional local organization, poor slate of candidates, lack of commitment from state organization in terms of money, and last but not least, a biased press in Southeast Missouri i.e., the Southeast Missourian.

-- Posted by foxtrot007 on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 7:47 AM

Interesting 'swamp', both the article and your comment. So democrats are going to 'seize' the district with a Dino supported by the poorest regions in the district who vote democrat. Let me get this straight, we're going to be represented by a conservative democrat whose constituency is those folks that benefit the most from entitlements. Let me apologize to my children's children in advance. The shame is that we know what we're doing. I don't so much mind if 'the media can be cruel and condescending', just as long as they are accurate.

-- Posted by blogbudsman on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 8:08 AM

blogbudsman I'm just saying this is the first time the window has been wide open for the democrats in 32 years. This area and I been here all my life use to be conservative democratic area up until 1981. This will be no doubt a very good race between the two candidates and the democrats will be well funded on this one and not like years past.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 8:28 AM

The Democrats have less of a chance to take this district as a snowball has in lasting in hell. As long as the Democrats are attached to Barack Hussein Obongo, Democrats have no chance in the 8th.

-- Posted by sasquatch on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 9:32 AM

Maybe a high-class, honorable upstanding "conservative" like Bill Burlison--is he still married to the post"mistress" he was having an affair with?? Another pro-union; pro-welfare; pro-entitlement; gov't knows all fool is sure what this nation needs. Be sure to send Claire a thank u note for Obamacare.....

-- Posted by Bearcat66 on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 9:48 AM

This is going to be interesting. The Dem want this so bad but this district is way too conservative. Maybe they should look for different candidates. They should talk with some of the candidates from the Rep party. Out of the 13-14 candidates only one will go as their rep.

Since the Dem are going to spend a lot of money, I'm sure one or two of those guys will run on their ticket.

-- Posted by concerncitizen086 on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 12:02 PM

HA-HA! Good luck!

-- Posted by vietnamvet on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 2:05 PM

Bearcat, Where've you been? Man its good to hear from you! It's time for conservatives to take the district. Emerson kept moving to the left of center until she only had a 48% conservative rating from Heritage Foundation.

And, we are WITHOUT representatation until June 4th!!

-- Posted by swift on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 3:05 PM

"a biased press in Southeast Missouri i.e., the Southeast Missourian".

-- Posted by foxtrot007

True. But without Emerson to kiss up to, who is the SEMO going to be biased FOR?

And what do the democrats have to complain about anyway? RINO Emerson voted along with the dems at every opportunity.

-- Posted by Audit The Fed on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 5:25 PM

I believe a conservative democrat would be better than Jo Ann Emerson or her hand picked succesor any day!

-- Posted by J Purcell on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 6:14 PM

What's great about our district is that our poor/lower middle class vote for the GOP. They care more about the talked up social issues by the Republican party than their own livelihood and are completely blind to the truth.

Regardless, if you guys above think that the dems have a shot I'll give you 20-1 odds on a bet.

-- Posted by Ck1993 on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 6:21 PM

Take the government out of the 8th district and it will dry up and blow away.

-- Posted by Grit on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 7:44 PM

I wonder when Jay Purcell is going to jump in on the Democrat ticket.

This is his chance.

-- Posted by semorider on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 8:29 PM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration. If you already have an account on seMissourian.com or semoball.com, enter your username and password below. Otherwise, click here to register.


Password:  (Forgot your password?)

Your comments:
Please be respectful of others and try to stay on topic.

LOCAL VIDEO: Democratic 8th Congressional District candidate forum
Map of pertinent addresses
Related subjects