Calling Republicans "masters in the art of deceit...who only serve one master--the Fortune 500 club," Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, led a handful of Democratic volunteers through Columbia neighborhoods on Saturday morning. The volunteers were part of a statewide canvassing event designed to raise the party's awareness prior to next year's elections.
Going door to door, volunteers distributed literature explaining the Democrats' position on the economy, education and health care and asked voters what issues they cared most about. More than 300 volunteers canvassed a total of 1,000 hours in 22 cities across the state.
Gov. Bob Holden participated in the canvassing events in Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield. Seventeen volunteers took part in Columbia.
"We are canvassing against bad policy, not bad people," Emily Peterson, a volunteer and a junior at MU, said. "We want to educate people about good decisions."
Bill Kottmeyer, information director of the Missouri Democratic Party, said the 2004 general election is critical to Democrats because key offices such as the governor and lieutenant governor are up for re-election in addition to the presidential election.
"The canvass gives people the opportunity to feel connected to what they believe in and feel connected to the community," he said.
Canvass literature praised Gov. Holden for protecting the children's health insurance program, MC+ for Kids, from proposed cuts by the Republican controlled legislature. It also commended Holden's plans to restore and prevent further cuts to education funding.
This year more than 200 schools threatened to sue Missouri over how the state finances schools. An expected budget deficit of $1 billion could result in more funding cuts next year.
Conceding that the Democratic Party cannot compete financially with the Republican campaign funds, Jacob said he believes canvassing is the only way to educate voters on Republican policies.
"We must go out into the community, build the spirit of Democrats, gather information and create a stronger democratic community," he said.