Republicans focus on change, youth vote at supper
There were speeches from candidates, including U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof.
Oct. 13, 2008
With Democrats leading in the polls in several state races and less than a month left before the general election, some local Republican candidates have taken a page from the national party's playbook and have emphasized youth and Washington reform.
This approach could be seen at the Boone County Republican Party's 14th Annual Chili Supper on Friday night.
Guest emcee Brock Olivo referred to the party's recent focus on youth when he took the wooden stage and tried to quiet the crowd of candidates, staff and supporters before he spoke.
"Ladies and gentleman, Sarah Palin has entered the room," he said jokingly, quieting a few supporters as he referred to the Republican vice presidential candidate.
Olivo, a former Republican candidate for representative in Missouri's 9th U.S. Congressional District focused his keynote speech on curing the "disease of apathy" that he said afflicts voters from his generation and its children, and the importance of those voters to winning the election.
"The youth vote is imperative," Olivo said. "I think in this election, more than any other time in recent in history, the youth vote is going to make a huge difference. I give kudos to the Democrats for reaching out to younger generations."
Olivo, who is a former MU football player, said one key for Republicans to win next month is for supporters to get behind vibrant young candidates who "reach out to young voters and are willing to put it all on the line."
Organizers said the supper was held to raise money and increase enthusiasm for GOP candidates on the state and national levels. Events included a gift basket auction and speeches from several candidates, including U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, the party's candidate for governor.
Hulshof made a late entrance from a fundraiser in Jefferson City, and was given standing ovation from audience members when he arrived. During his speech, Hulshof criticized his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Jay Nixon, for campaigning with an agenda focused on governmental reform.
"All of the sudden, the guy I'm running against, the longest serving government official in our state right now, suddenly says 'Now, I'm an agent of change'," Hulshof said. "Man, it isn't going to change. You've been part of the problem for the last 22 years and now you expect that you're going to be part of the solution?"
One GOP candidate who was absent was Ryan Asbridge, who is running for 25th district state House representative. Asbridge, who is an intelligence officer for the U.S. Navy, was recently deployed overseas for an indefinite assignment to an unknown location.
Yancy Williams, Asbridge's campaign manager, said that even in Asbridge's absence, his campaign would continue to put up a fight for the seat.
"It's always difficult when the candidate isn't here," he said. "But he has a good group of friends and supporters here in Columbia."
Williams also said Asbridge was confident he could return in time to fulfill his duties in the Missouri General Assembly, perhaps only missing the freshman tour.
Mike Zweifel, communications and events chairman for the Central Missouri Young Republicans, said a victory ultimately depends on using the message of reform to energize the party's base supports and independent voters in favor of conservative candidates.
"We're going to get out the vote and double our efforts," Zweifel said. "There are lots of public clubs trying to get out there and get people to the polls and make sure our candidates win."