Don’t bother reading this. Democrat Doug Clemens is running for the safe Democratic seat (67 DPI) in HD 77 (mid St. Louis County) against two unimpressive primary opponents. So what else is there to know, right?
For starters, he’s behaving very oddly. We could overlook the fact that he started knocking on doors in January, for pete’s sake, because back then he didn’t necessarily have a commanding lead. But the phone calls he and his people have made to self identified Democrats indicate that about half of them will commit themselves. Forty percent of those called support Clemens. That leaves his opponents, the current mayor of Edmundson and a former alderwoman from St. Ann, to divide the other ten percent of committed voters. So now we come to the odd part: with a lead like that, he still spends most mornings calling people for campaign donations, and he starts knocking on doors every afternoon around 2:00 or 3:00 and keeps at it until dark.
There’s only about three weeks left till the primary–which is, let’s face it, the whole ball of wax in this district–and it’s hotter’n Hades. Ease up, Doug! This is crazy behavior.
He doesn’t think it’s crazy so much as old fashioned, in the best sense of the term. It’s been twenty years since a representative in his district–a man named Foley–did much consistent door knocking. Clemens believes it’s necessary, because he is looking at the long term. He’s about more than winning the election. He wants to build a network of activists in his district. Since the St. Louis mainstream media so steadfastly ignores most of the news from Jefferson City, Clemens believes he needs people behind him, people he can educate by e-mail about the goings on in Jeff City, people who will call their senator or the Republican leadership to object to bad policy proposals or to urge a vote on good ones. Because otherwise their needs will never get met.
Clemens himself was laid off in 2009 because credit was shut off to the transportation firm where he worked. He’s getting by okay by doing consulting work, but he says that “every third or fourth door I hit, there’s someone unemployed. They’re having trouble coming up with money for school supplies, for utility bills, for health care.”
Clemens figures there are creative ways to build more jobs in this state. He points, for example, to a green technologies park in nearby Hazelwood. One company might make photovoltaic cells and another one wind turbines. The point is that with various green companies close to each other, it’s easier to trade ideas. Or suppose, says Clemens, Missouri had a state-owned bank that would lend to small businesses. North Dakota, which has the only such state-owned bank, has survived the current downturn better than most places.
Clemens isn’t necessarily saying that he thinks he could get something like that instituted here. He’s just saying that he will be watching for innovative ideas. He keeps himself well informed about politics, the environment, and the economic picture. Because you’re not going to figure out solutions if you’re an ignoramus.
And you won’t get anything enacted all by yourself, even if you win four House elections in a row. Just as Clemens likes talking to people at the door, he will also be good at talking to representatives on both sides of the aisle. He will strive to help people survive this awful economy.
So, if and when he wins the primary, I fully expect him to keep hitting those doors till November. Maybe he’ll knock off in December.