Jill Schupp told me how she spent her summer vacation: campaigning for other Democrats running for state rep. Amid all the tedium of door knocking and phone calling, she did have some excitement–one harrowing moment. She and some other campaigners were leaving a parish picnic where at least a thousand people had gathered and where they had been campaigning for Cyrus Dashtaki. The car (Schupp wasn’t driving) suddenly speeded up on its own while the driver had it in reverse. It went downhill backwards through a parking lot, through an area where lots of people were walking, through another parking lot and finally down a hill where it ran into a fence. No one was hurt, all of the pedestrians managed to get out of the way, no other cars were damaged. But Schupp realized “sort of the risk that I was putting people in by just taking them around the state to do this.” The people with Schupp were rooting extra hard for Dashtaki to win because they had–and she laughed as she said–“sure been through a lot of trouble to help him.”
Unfortunately, Dashtaki was another of the fine candidates who did not prevail. As was Carl Thompson, who was running to replace term limited Rachel Bringer. Bringer, a rep who studied issues carefully, had taken it upon herself to get the freshman Democrats together each session so that she could bring them up to speed on what was happening and answer their questions. Schupp will miss Rachel Bringer, and now that seat won’t even be filled by the man that Bringer had high hopes for.
Among those Schupp helped who did get elected is Susan Carlson, who will be taking Rachel Storch’s place. Schupp characterized Carlson as “a wonderful, a brilliant attorney” who will do a superb job. Another success was Clem Smith. Schupp and some of her friends–as well as her parents–made phone calls for Smith in the primary. He was running in a safe Democratic district to replace Don Calloway, who gave up that seat to run for the senate.
This brief video will give you the flavor of some of the other races Schupp talked about: Jeanne Kirkton’s, Rebecca McClanahan’s, Courtney Cole’s, and Kelly Schultz’s.
Schupp ended her summer of campaigning for other candidates by holding a fundraiser at her house in Creve Coeur. It was well attended. Democrats, who came to listen to and shake hands with Nixon, Montee, Zweifel, and Koster, donated almost $110,000. Which, along with all the other donations Democratic candidates garnered, still meant that the Ds were way outspent.
But Schupp doesn’t blame our bad year on money woes alone. She stresses that Democrats did not work hard enough to get out a positive message. On both the state and national levels, we could have stressed the values we believe in and emphasized the disaster that stimulus funds averted. And we should have trumpeted the advantages of health care reform on the jobs front. Once national health care gets put into place in our state, not only will more people get much needed care, but more people will be employed. There will be new jobs available for health care providers as well as in the ancillary businesses that spring up to support the providers. Schupp is excited about that and thinks Democrats should have claimed their bragging rights.
But Democrats didn’t have that unified message. As a result, there will be the Heinz 57 in the House this session: 57 Democrats to 106 Republicans. Those Dems will need to be unified, she says. She has some ideas about how to achieve that. More on that later.