© 2024 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Why Crystal Quade believes Missouri is ready again for a Democratic governor

Crystal Quade, Missouri State Representative, poses for a portrait at the St. Louis Public Radio Studios on Thursday June 13, 2024.
Theo R. Welling
St. Louis Public Radio
Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, is attempting to dislodge Republicans from the governor’s office for the first time since 2017.

When House Minority Leader Crystal Quade first won election to her Springfield-based seat in 2016, her fellow Democrats suffered catastrophic losses for state legislative and statewide posts.

Now, after eight years of near-total GOP control of Missouri state government, Quade believes the state’s voters are ready to move on and place Democrats like her in the governor’s mansion. During an appearance on The Politically Speaking Hour on St. Louis on the Air, Quade contended that Missourians are dissatisfied with how Republicans have led the state.

“They're frustrated by a leadership vacuum that is happening in Jefferson City,” Quade said. “And one of the things I was able to prove in 2016, by becoming the only elected Democrat in the southern half of the state in a red-at-the-time area, was because I listened to folks, and I asked what they wanted.”

Candidates like Quade, one of two who along with Springfield businessman Mark Hamra are the major Democratic contenders to succeed Gov. Mike Parson, will only be able to win in November if they reclaim rural and suburban parts of the state that Republicans have captured over the past decade. Since 2016, Missouri Democrats have often received around 20% of the vote in scores of rural counties — which makes it almost impossible to win statewide.

Why Crystal Quade believes Missouri is ready again for a Democratic governor

Quade said Democrats are trying to dig themselves out of their electoral hole by running in places where Republicans often dominate.

“Showing up in rural Missouri is step one,” Quade said. “And step two, of course, is listening and talking about the issues that matter to people.”

One of the key proposals Quade is putting forward is to eliminate the state’s tax on groceries, something she said could be helpful to working-class Missourians who are struggling with higher food prices.

Quade said her plan would include creating a fund to make sure that municipalities don’t lose critical revenue. And she’s floated taxes on things like yachts and foreign-owned farms as a way to eventually make the loss of the tax sustainable in the long term.

“Everyday Missourians are struggling with basic needs to get by right now. And we have so many tax cuts in Missouri for the uber-wealthy,” Quade said. “And I know that Missourians everywhere know that is unfair, and they're looking for leaders who are willing to look outside the box to give them a break.”

The Rev. Dr. Love Holt kicks off a rally to gather signatures for a Missouri constitutional amendment that would legalize abortion up until fetal viability on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, at The Pageant in St. Louis’ West End neighborhood.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
The Rev. Love Holt kicks off a rally in February to gather signatures for a Missouri constitutional amendment that would legalize abortion up until fetal viability.

Will abortion rights vote alter the general election?

Unlike her GOP opponents, Quade is a strong supporter of a measure that would place language in the Missouri Constitution legalizing abortion up to what’s known as fetal viability. That’s defined as when a medical professional decides a fetus could survive outside the womb without extraordinary medical intervention.

Quade said the likelihood of the abortion amendment being on the November ballot could be a boon to Democratic state legislative candidates — so much so it could eat away at the GOP supermajority. But detractors of the amendment counter that the prospect of legal abortion could galvanize voters who oppose it.

While conceding that some voters are not going to be persuaded to vote for the abortion legalization measure, Quade said Missourians don’t like the current law that bans the procedure with the exception of medical emergencies.

“I really think that for a lot of Missourians, this comes down to an attack on personal liberties and freedoms — and the government telling people what to do,” she said.

Another area where she diverges with Republicans is her opposition to having a state board oversee the St. Louis police department. The major GOP candidates, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and state Sen. Bill Eigel, all support that idea, saying that allowing the mayor’s office to run the department hasn’t made the city safer.

Quade said removing local control of the department is disrespectful to city residents.

“The one thing that I would add to that is we know Kansas City has been under state control for quite some time, and their crime rates are rising. So it's not working there,” said Quade, who added she would be in favor of ending state control of that police department.

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 produced by Ulaa Kuziez, Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr and the production intern is Roshae Hemmings. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org.

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

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