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Missouri Democrats Rally Behind Galloway’s Gubernatorial Bid At Truman Dinner

State Auditor Nicole Galloway speaks at the Truman Dinner on August 17, 2019.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
State Auditor Nicole Galloway speaks at the Truman Dinner on Saturday.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway is promising to take the fight to Gov. Mike Parson in next year’s gubernatorial contest, contending that Missouri Democrats are better equipped to solve state problems than the GOP.

Galloway’s speech at the Missouri Democratic Party’s Truman Dinner on Saturday in St. Louis was her first major addresssince announcing her bid for governor Monday.Her party is trying to bounce back after three dismal election cycles in a row.

During her address, Galloway went after Parson and the Republican majority in the General Assembly for trying to place a new state legislative redistricting system on the 2020 ballot and not doing enough to stop children from being kicked off the state’s Medicaid program. 

“Their agenda is not our agenda,” Galloway said. “And it has real impacts on real people.”

Galloway also criticized Parson for signing a bill banning abortion at eight weeks of pregnancy. And she contended that state government wasn’t addressing big issues that struggling families across the state deal with on a day-to-day basis.

She went on to say that Parson “is not a bad guy.” But she added, “Simply not being Eric Greitens is too low of a bar.” 

Greitens resigned from office last year, leading to Parson becoming governor.

“Government is not working for you,” Galloway said. “It’s working for someone else. It’s no wonder people feel like the system is broken.”

Near the end of her address, Galloway touched on how some of the state’s biggest cities, including St. Louis and Kansas City, are experiencing an uptick in violent crime. She said Missouri has the highest percentage of black people slain in the nation. 

“This is a human tragedy. This is a public health crisis,” Galloway said. “And this is an economic crisis that will prevent us from moving forward as a state. We shouldn’t have to settle for this.”

Parson has not officially announced that he’s running for a full four-year term. But he is expected to make that move in the coming weeks. He’s hired campaign manager Steele Shippy and currently has more money at his disposal than Galloway for a 2020 campaign. 

After she made her announcement, Shippy contended that Galloway was too liberal for a state that’s trended Republican in the past three election cycles. 

Galloway will face the challenge of winning back historically Democratic territory that’s drifted toward the GOP — including large swaths of rural Missouri and places like Jefferson and Buchanan counties. National politics will also loom large, especially since the presidential contest typically influences other races. In 2016, President Donald Trump won the state by 19 percentage points.

Still, many Democrats at the Truman Day Dinner were enthused about Galloway’s candidacy — and said that being united around a gubernatorial contender helps their cause.

“She’s young. She’s vibrant. She’s extremely intelligent. And voters really appreciate all the good work she’s done as auditor,” said House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield. “It is extremely important that we can be unified; 2020 is going to be a difficult year for us. But we have a lot of excitement behind our wonderful governor candidate.”

Former state Rep. Clem Smith, vice chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party, said he too has seen the various factions of his party rally behind Galloway since she made her long-awaited gubernatorial bid official.

“I’ve seen a lot of the different caucuses and subgroups of the party extremely excited,” Smith said. “Their excitement makes us excited. So hopefully we can get a good person in there that’s going to do the job — and make sure the next governor is a Democrat.”

For her part, Galloway said she plans to piece together the urban, suburban and rural coalition Democrats need to win statewide elections in Missouri. 

“We’re going to take our message to every corner of this state,” she said. “Whether it’s Hannibal, Hayti, St. Louis, Kansas City and everywhere in between. I am not afraid to be myself and be genuine and talk about the issues people care about.”

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.