The Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party, Jared Craighead, holds a conference call with reporters to talk about the races for President, Governor and Attorney General . . . And by listening to him, all that talk about a tough year for the Missouri G.O.P. is overblown.
ADDS: HULSHOF CAN WIN, WITHOUT A MCCAIN WIN
Despite the polls, the national mood and the pundits, Jared Craighead says he's not concerned about his party's chances this November.
"Everyone would argue we'll be the underdogs," said Craighead, the executive director of the Missouri Republican Party in a conference call Tuesday with reporters across the state. "It's a challenging time for Republicans . . . but most Missourians are happy with what's going on in this state."
Craighead first pointed to what he called a "nasty" primary for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General. Former Republican turned Democrat Chris Koster appears to have edged out Rep. Margaret Donnelly, and Craighead sees that as an opportunity for Republican nominee Mike Gibbons.
"Jeff Harris and Margaret Donnelly are not excited about (Chris Koster,)" he said. "Talk to people in the Democratic party to see if Margaret Donnelly and Jeff Harris are behind Chris Koster. We've got a united ticket."
Craighead seemed to gloss over the biggest contest primary in the state -- the knock-down, drag-out Republican battle for Governor between Kenny Hulshof and Sarah Steelman. Despite Craighead's reassurances that Steelman's supporters will ultimately support Hulshof, there are still wounds to be healed with her most fervent backers, particularly in the Springfield area. At least one has told the KY3 Political Notebook he will attend a Jay Nixon fundraiser in Springfield later in the week.
Craighead said there was never a planned Unity Rally with G.O.P. candidates because they don't need one. 'We don't need to have an event to stand together to act like we're unified," Craighead said.
Craighead also noted that the Steelman-Hulshof battle was not as nasty as the 1992 contest between Bill Webster and Roy Blunt, and that while some Republicans are disappointed, most are excited, with "one goal in mind": defeating Democratic candidate Jay Nixon.
Nixon has already signaled he will pick up some of Steelman's attacks and use them against Hulshof. Hulshof's Congressional record will again be a focal point. "I'm not concerned," Craighead responded, referring to pending critiques of Hulshof's Washington record. "Anyone in Congress . . . has votes that can be taken out of context. I think the Democrats will certainly try to take some of the votes out of context." Craighead said you have to look no further than Hulshof's large margins in the 9th Congressional District, to see that the people that know him best, obviously like his record.
THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE
On the presidential campaign, when asked if Kenny Hulshof could win the Governorship without John McCain carrying the state of Missouri, Craighead replied, "I think he can . . . I think it's difficult, but it's possible." He said the Missouri Republican Party is working very closely with the McCain campaign and has at least 8 to 10 field representatives coordinating with McCain's campaign. "All of our staff helps McCain and all of McCain's people help our staff," Craighead said.
Craighead also urged Missourians to watch both approaching party national conventions. He said that will provide a real contrast between John McCain and Barack Obama. "I hope lots of Missourians watch both conventions," Craighead said.