John Temporiti, chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party since last March, exuded energy and optimism in his speech Monday to the West County Democrats. He’s a businessman, proud of his years at the helm of Mayflower Moving and set on applying his business experience to taking all the Democratic seats possible in this state next fall.
He has a strategic plan of goals that are reviewed every 60-90 days by teleconference. The plan was prepared–at no cost to the party–by the man who did the strategic planning for Mayflower when Temporiti was CEO there. So you could get the impression that this job is just business calculations for him, especially since he began by pointing out that when he took over last March, the party was $300,000 in debt, and they raised $1.2 million last year. He might seem like nothing more than a green eyeshade type when he tells you that he now has twenty people on his staff and a monthly payroll of $100,000 to meet. Or when he says that Jay’s campaign manager, Ken Morley, hired in January 2007–that’s how long we’ve been serious about Nixon’s campaign–is one of the top three managers in the country and he doesn’t come cheap. (But hiring Morley and focusing on properly allocating our resources has been worth it, he thinks: “Wasn’t it the greatest thing, and no accident, that we beat an incumbent governor, Matt Blunt, without even going to the ballot?”) Temporiti sounds like a numbers cruncher in pointing out that the party is calling half a million people who voted Democratic in ’06 in order to get their profiles–addresses, e-mails, phone numbers–so that activists knocking on doors this year can use their time most efficiently.
He’ll tell you that “this is the business approach to the art of politics.” But his calculating methods aren’t the whole story. Temporiti feels a sense of history, and says that at this critical time in American history, Democrats have the momentum.
“This is our time. This is our time. Think of what’s at stake here, in our country, in this state, and in the world, and it’s not a very good picture. Now I am not a negative kind of guy. … I’m usually optimistic. But I’m a little bit troubled, to say the least, by what’s been going on. And I’m not standing for it anymore. So, one, this is our time. Two, though, imagine if we don’t take advantage of this opportunity. I don’t think I could live with myself very well. And I hope you can’t either. So it’s a double responsibility, because we have a sense of time and momentum that is unique.
That passion pushes Temporiti to organize the party. He has always been aware of how highly organized Republicans are. They have all the wrong ideas, but they win elections anyway, because they’re so focused.
These guys are good. They’re ruthless, they’re well-financed, and they’re good. And trust me, we’ll be just as appropriately ruthless and well-financed and good as we need to be.
The demographics of Missouri will help Temporiti accomplish his goals: the voters are 38 percent Democratic and 32 percent Republican. The rest are Independents and right now we are attracting those Independents at a rate of 2:1. Almost a quarter of million more people took Democratic ballots in the primary than took Republican ballots.
In the end, though, pragmatism trumps passion for Temporiti. He feels that it does no good to have diversity–to be the real big tent party–and to passionately want social justice if we don’t win elections. Can we currently take our complaints about the way things are run to the governor? Or to the House? Or to the Senate? Nope. So he tries to get candidates who are the best fit for the districts they will run in. And that includes getting a pro-life candidate in Harry Kennedy’s first district senate seat. That’s a pro-life district where Kennedy is termed out, and Temporiti has no intention of letting that seat go to a Republican. (I know some of you will disagree with him. Feel free to say so in the comments section.)
But more important than anything in winning elections, to his mind, is sticking to our core values: jobs and the economy, health care, and education. Over the decades, Democrats have claimed those issues and we need to constantly remind voters that that’s who we are. It’s because those are our values that he gets frustrated with people in good union jobs–a couple earning, say, $110,000–who move to St. Charles and start voting Republican! “Give me a break,” says Temporiti. We need to remind those people where they came from and how they got where they are and then urge them to do the right thing.
Because Republicans don’t really care about the issues of jobs, health care, and education, they will always be the minority party–a party that survives in part by redrawing the lines in redistricting years to favor itself. Winning this year is crucial because 2010 is a census year. If we don’t want those lines redrawn to their advantage, we need the governorship.
Naturally, Mr. Chairman plugged the need, then, to support the state Democratic Party by joining it. The money the party brings in goes to help in the governor’s race, as well as House and Senate races. I went to www.missouridems.org, looked in the righthand column where I saw “Join the MDP or renew your membership”, and paid this year’s dues. I recommend you do the same.
I’ll have more to say in my next posting about Temporiti’s comments, specifically about how Blunt’s withdrawal affects our chances of getting the governor’s seat, how he sees our chances of taking Akin’s seat in the second congressional district, his activities in trying to prevent contested primaries, and his own role as a Democratic super delegate.