2018 midterm race gets going

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COLUMBIA - In a quiet building tucked behind brick facades and looming trees off Vandiver Drive, the 2018 midterm election campaign got its gears going Tuesday evening.

Renee Hoagenson’s campaign held an organizing meeting to familiarize volunteers with the coming race.

Hoagenson, a 51-year-old Democrat from Columbia, is running against incumbent Vicky Hartzler, a fourth-term Republican who has at least 8 times the financial backing of Hoagenson, according to the latest Federal Ethics Commission reports. 

About a dozen volunteers showed up at the Boone County Democrats headquarters Tuesday to hear a rundown of logistics from campaign manager Nate Irvin, a politician in his own right who, when he was just 26, lost a bid to push Hartzler out of her seat in 2014.

“A big thing that we’re going to have to do is escape from the national Democratic narrative,” Irvin told volunteers. 

He is working to sell Hoagenson as a progressive Democrat with Missouri in mind, but he and his candidate have an uphill battle in a district where a Republican has held the congressional seat for the last 6 and a half years.

“We have to be very strategic, obviously, because she will have more money than we have regardless of how much we raise” Hoagenson said. “But I think the thing that’s the most important is how many different donors we have. We’ve already had over 1,000 people donate to this campaign.”

Hoagenson has never run for public office before. She’s a small business owner who decided to get involved in politics after the 2016 presidential election.

Her platforms includes priorities like campaign finance reform, creating jobs and battling gerrymandering.

“Taking the districts out of the hands of legislators is the first key,” Hoagenson said. “I personally would love to see federal redistricting in which there are citizens panels made in each state that represent both parties.”

But many insist districts are drawn fairly according to the census.

In 2012, after the 4th district was re-drawn, Hartzler said in an online newsletter the process was meant, “to ensure each Congressman and Congresswoman represents approximately the same number of American citizens.”

Hoagenson said, “It seems really odd to me that the districts would be drawn so carefully as to cut out houses and certain pockets if that is actually the case.” 

Another point of difference is gun control. Hartzler is a firm believer in the second amendment, according to her campaign website.

Hoagenson said there’s a sensible way to control who gets guns. 

“I support the Constitution, I think that our Constitution is a wonderful framework that makes a lot of sense when it is honored,” Hoagenson said. “I do believe that there is sane and sensible aspects to gun regulation or gun control. Most people, actually, would agree. About 70 percent of people do believe that there need to be more regulation around people with mental illnesses, in particular.” 

The Boone County Republicans met Tuesday night, too. A call to them went unreturned.  Their own field could fill out, too. Jenna Marie Bourgeois, switched to the Republican party in September, after initially running as a Democrat.

“That’s where my connections were,” Bourgeois said.

She was president of the young Democrats in St. Charles in the early 2000s. 

“At that time my platform was considered a conservative Democratic approach,” Bourgeois said. “Getting reacquainted with the Democratic party in Missouri, I found that they are much further left than I am on certain issues.”

Bourgeois is against DACA, the legislation that protected immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children from being deported. Many of her other platform positions are consistent with other Republicans.

“I’m very pro-business, very pro-economic growth, pro-environment, and on the social side, I support diversity,” she said.

Bourgeois is transgender. She said part of the reason she’s running against Hartzler is because of Hartzler’s support for a transgender ban in the U.S. military.

“She’s vulnerable right now,” Bourgeois said. “I argue that the reason she’s vulnerable is two things. One is that she did the trans military ban, which was hugely unpopular across the country, particularly with the millennial generation. And then two, she’s running around telling everyone that she’s just like Trump. And I argue that she’s like Trump but she’s worse.”

Bourgeois’ switch to the Republican race means Hoagenson, so far, sees a clear path to victory in the primary.

“It was pretty unexpected. We had no idea,” Irvin said of Bourgeois’ party switch. “I don’t think it has any real affect on us one way or another.”

The primary election for the fourth district comes in August of 2018. The general election, to choose the 4th district’s congressmember, is Nov. 6, 2018.