After two decades of Democratic dominance in the 25th District of the Missouri House of Representatives, Republican Joel Jeffries believes he can change history.
Meanwhile, a pair of Democrats hope the district will remain in the donkeys’ turf.
Jeffries is scheduled to make his candidacy official today at the Columbia Pachyderm Club’s luncheon meeting. The campaign will mark his second bid for the House seat. He garnered nearly 4,000 votes during a failed attempt in 2002 to unseat Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson.
Term limits will force Wilson, a Democrat who has held the seat for more than seven years, to step aside while others compete for the seat. She’s contemplating a run for the state’s 19th District Senate seat.
No Republican has been elected to the 25th District since it became a part of Boone County as a result of redistricting in 1982. But Jeffries said the district’s Democrat leanings won’t necessarily translate into Democratic votes in the November general election.
“A lot of people (in this district) don’t have the same sort of party identification that has existed in the past,” Jeffries said.
Jeffries, a local physician who specializes in spinal care and is a member of the Family Health Center’s board of directors, said his campaign will focus on education, health-care issues and the state budget crisis. He believes those issues will play well in the district.
Voting records confirm that residents of the 25th District — like many in Boone County — tend to vote for Democrats but that the margin of difference is shrinking.
In the 2000 presidential election, 52 percent of the district’s votes were cast for Democrat Al Gore, while Republican George W. Bush received 42 percent of the vote, according to records from the office of the Boone County clerk. While a 10 percent margin of victory might be considered a landslide in some elections, it was significantly less than the margin between President Bill Clinton and Republican challenger Bob Dole in 1996.
Despite those statistics, Democrats Duane Dimmitt and Rick Raven believe their party has the inside track in the 25th District.
“I certainly hope so,” Dimmitt said after chuckling at the question. But the physical therapy assistant conceded the conservative vote seems to be getting stronger, even in his district.
This is the first time Dimmitt has run for public office. He said his campaign will focus on the protection of senior citizens and making it easier for Missourians to adopt children.
Raven, a 22-year-old MU student and business owner who said he will focus on the need to protect education from state budget cuts, said he is confident the district’s Democratic tendencies will boost him.
“It’s definitely going to help me,” he said. “The time couldn’t be better.”