Mark Parkinson, the Republican representative in HD 16, is a four-week incumbent. At least that’s what Cheryl Hibbeler calls him when she’s going door to door on behalf of his Democratic opponent, Kristy Manning. If a constituent confesses to not knowing who his state rep is, she points out that it’s perfectly understandable he wouldn’t know. After last February’s special election, by the time Parkinson was actually sworn in and ready to participate in the legislative session, there were only four weeks left in the session. He has no other experience in state government, having only one job on his resume, that of being an aide to Kit Bond. Manning, on the other hand, (Cheryl tells the person at the door) has worked six years in state government as an aide to Senator Joan Bray.
Ah, sad but true, though, the best qualified candidate doesn’t always win. And that’s especially true in St. Charles County where, as Kristy’s ad (just shift your eyes to the left hand column) points out, Democrats are typically outspent by Republicans 5 to 1. What’s more, the money gap is even worse than the ad lets on because that 5 to 1 gap is only the gap between the official spending of the campaigns themselves. It doesn’t take into account the spending of other organizations on behalf of the candidate. By the time the HRCC and the Missouri Right to Life have plowed some more money into the race, the gap might be closer to 8 or 9 to 1.
Like so many outspent Democrats, Kristy and her volunteers are working their tails off going door to door. So far, they’ve knocked on 7,000 doors. She herself has knocked on 4,000 and has actually spoken to a couple of thousand people. Conventional wisdom is that 2,000 personal contacts can be enough to swing a close district, and oh this one is close all right. Tom Fann lost to Parkinson last February 51.6 percent to 48.4 percent.
Kristy is by no means assuming that introducing herself to 2,000 people will hand her the election. She follows through on every personal contact with a “nice to meet you” note that includes personal details, if possible. She mentions the person’s dog or asks after the baby’s cough. And she enjoys sometimes running into those people at community functions and having them say, “Hey, you came to my door!” Thank goodness for a sharp memory because she often remembers the dog or the baby’s cough even then.
Kristy’s got 67 days to knock on more doors, and believe it: she will. Show her some love by clicking on her ad.