Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan was the first to take the podium, and she declared her intentions of putting a Democrat in the other US Senate seat which would make it the first time that Democrats held the governor's office and both senate seats since 1964. Carnahan has announced her candidacy for the senate seat being vacated by Sen. Kit Bond (R) who is retiring. The other US Senate seat is held by Democrat Claire McCasKill.
The event was a celebration for Bootheel Democrats. A Democrat, Barack Obama was elected president, and the Democrats now control both the US House and Senate. Democrats control all but one of the state constitution offices and are now taking aim at the state legislature, according to Briney Welborn. Welborn fired up the crowd early with his attack on the Republican agenda.
"We need to jump start the economy for everyone, not just for the big boys," Carnahan stated.
Carnahan outlined what she considered to be the biggest issues that would be debated in the senate campaign. Those issues were the economy, health care reform, energy policy and education. She noted that the cost of health care was "eating up government budgets," and that something has to be done to make it affordable for all people. She added that small business was being particularly crippled by the rising cost of health insurance, and faced hard decisions about providing that benefit to its workers. She also took aim at the petroleum nations in the Middle East and emphasized her position that America needs to find an alternative energy source to stop the reliance on oil countries.
State Auditor Susan Montee was the next to speak and she commented about the economy, "things are really tough." She picked up on comments from Welborn and Carnahan stating, "We've got to do something about the legislature." She said it was not realistic to think that Democrats could take the senate, but it was possible for them to be the majority in the house.
Montee said she believed she would be targeted by Republicans in the next election because the Republicans need someone in a constitutional office at the Capitol in their quest to retake the governor' office. She asked for the support of all those present and urged them to donate to her campaign.
"The only way we can move forward is to get a Democratic House," said Montee.
Dr. Jon Hagler was the keynote speaker and he followed Montee. Hagler is the Missouri Secretary of Agriculture.
He opened by stating, "Missouri deserves better. Government should be the government you sent, not the government they sent."
"What does the Democratic Party stand for if not for the people that work with their hands?" Hagler asked the crowd.
He said the Democrats needed to always keep in mind that they are the party of the "working people." He said as secretary of agriculture he seeks to gain input from the farmers in Missouri in an attempt to set policy based on their needs. He said he would not be doing service to his position if he was out in the state trying to tell farmers how to do their job.
He summed up his office policy by saying it revolved around four beliefs. The first belief focuses on the use of common sense. He said common sense should always prevail. Secondly, he declared "I work for you and not special interests." His third belief is that his employees should always be involved in whatever is asked of them. "If its not your job, then you don't work here anymore," he related. Lastly, he said his final belief was "nobody cares about rules, the guiding factor should be values, fairness and mostly results."
He said the best way to rebuild the economy is to build it from the "small ones like Dexter, up."
Several other prominent Democrats were in attendance at the rally Saturday night. They included House Minority Leader J.C. Kuessner of Eminence, House Caucus Chairman Terry Swinger from Caruthersville, Minority Whip Leader Linda Fisher from Bonne Terre and former senator Maida Coleman.
Swinger presented a House of Representatives memorial plaque to Kathryn Mooney Skelton in honor of her father, Elvis Alexander Mooney, who died recently. Elvis Mooney was a longtime Stoddard County attorney and Democrat.