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Missouri GOP Leader Details How Republicans Trounced Democrats

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Congresswoman Ann Wagner won their competitive races decisively as Republicans in Missouri performed exceptionally well.
Jonathan Ahl / St. Louis Public Radio; Theo R. Welling / Special to St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner won their competitive races decisively as Republicans in Missouri performed exceptionally well in the election.

Before the election on Tuesday, Jean Evans predicted President Donald Trump and Gov. Mike Parson would win the state by double digits. They did. In fact, Republicans performed exceptionally well in the Show-Me State.

“Tonight I’m going out with a few friends, and we are going to celebrate and enjoy what was a very hard-fought victory here in Missouri,” said Evans, the executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, who formerly represented parts of St. Louis County in the Missouri House.

Evans explained that the GOP’s winning strategy boils down to three main factors: great candidates, a strong ground game and the Democratic Party’s failure to resonate with Missouri voters.

“We had over 2 million voter contacts heavily focused in the 2nd Congressional District [and] across the state,” Evans said. “In 2018, they did a million voter contacts for the Josh Hawley campaign. We did 2 million, so we doubled that effort, and we had people on the ground knocking on doors.”

The party focused on getting out the vote for GOP state Sen. Andrew Koenig, who fought back a challenge from Democratic state Rep. Deb Lavender in the St. Louis County-based 15th Senate District.

“We knew if Andrew [Koenig] won, [Ann] Wagner would win — and if that happened, it would drive up our margins across the state,” Evans told St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske.

In 2018, U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner won the part of the 2nd Congressional District that’s in St. Louis County by less than one point. She extended her margin of victory on Tuesday by beating back a challenge from Democratic state Sen. Jill Schupp in a race that nonpartisan polls considered a toss-up.

“The Democrats had no ground game. I don’t know if they were making calls, but they had zero ground game in St. Louis County. Whereas in 2018, Claire McCaskill had a ground game like none other I’ve ever seen on the Democrat side,” Evans said.

Evans also said the Republican Party resonates better with Missourians.

“This run to the left just doesn’t play well in the suburbs,” Evans said, citing calls by some Democrats to defund the police and the Pentagon.

“Right after Cori Bush made her statement about defunding the Pentagon, Nicole Galloway was campaigning with her and sent out an email about campaigning with her, so she’s kind of tying herself to the candidate who’s making these outrageous statements,” Evans said. “Of course we exploited that.

“Defunding the police is not a mainstream thought, not even in the African American community. That’s been a winning issue this summer, and it will continue to be,” she said.

A conservative political action committee faced accusations of racism for using images of Black politicians and scenes of violent protests in negative campaign materials.

“We’ve been called racist for so long about everything that it sort of doesn’t ring true anymore,” Evans said. “They’re always calling us a racist, and it’s just not true. I’m not saying there aren’t racists that identify as Republican. There are racists who identify as Republican, Democrat and Independent.

“We cannot ignore the fact that racism exists … but if every single thing you do is turned into some sort of racist or anti-special interest group or minority group, it sort of gets old and doesn’t ring true,” she said.

Evans said calling Republicans racist detracts from “real racism.”

“I say the same thing about sexism and sexual harassment,” Evans said. “If everything is sexual harassment, then nothing is. This cancel culture where everything you do or say has to go through this perfect little woke lens, people are kind of tired of it.”

“We want to be the party for all people, and we want to get past these labelings of being ‘anti’ or whatever ‘ism’ that there is,” Evans said. “We’re one people. We’re all Americans. We’re all Missourians. Let’s work together and get past all these things that divide us.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.