Thursday, August 14, 2008

LeVota Chats Up Local House Candidates

"We've out-recruited the Republicans."

135th, 136th, 141st Seem To Be Priorities


The top-ranking House Democrat in Missouri said that his party has a better chance to pick up seats in the Ozarks this November because fewer voters will be toeing the party line.

At a meeting with Southwest Missouri candidates Thursday, Rep. Paul LeVota identified #136th district candidate Nick Beatty, #135th candidate Nancy Hagan and #141st candidate Ron Shawgo as strong contenders who have a shot at upending their Republican opponents this fall.

"We've out-recruited the Republicans and we have great candidates that really fit the district," LeVota said in an interview.

Asked how repeat candidate Hagan can win a district that's one of the most Republican leaning seats in the state, LeVota replied, "we can win this one." "People are tired of the partisan politics. They're not going to go in and vote Democrat or Republican. They're going to look at each candidate," he said. LeVota pointed out that last cycle Democrats won a seat in Northeast Missouri, an area that's only about 39% Democratic. "You get a strong candidate in a district that works hard, you can win," he said.

#135th Republican Rep. Charlie Denison defeated Hagan 56%-44% in 2006. The vote margin between them was 1,975 votes out of 17,755 cast. Riper territory for the Dems may lie in the #136th, where Rep. B.J. Marsh is term-limited. In 2006, Marsh beat Democrat James Owen by the same margin -- 56% to 44%. But with Marsh unable to run, it's Republican Eric Burlison versus Democrat Nick Beatty.

LeVota also pinpointed the 141st as a potential target. Ron Shawgo is the Democratic candidate there. Republican Jay Wasson holds that seat currently. But the numbers there show that could be a longshot. Wasson defeated his 2006 opponent easily 69% to 31%. Wasson is also one of the most respected lawmaker in southwest Missouri.

LeVota also said he does not think a weaker performance by Barack Obama in southwest Missouri would hurt his candidates. He said close coordination with Jay Nixon's campaign for Governor will help his candidates identify voters and boost turnout in key areas.

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