JEFFERSON CITY — A south St. Louis County Democrat said Monday he would try to flip one of Missouri’s Republican-held U.S. Senate seats in the November 2022 election.
Former state Sen. Scott Sifton of Affton announced his bid Monday morning in a video announcement shared on Twitter. He could face U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, next year — if Blunt decides to run again and both men win their party nominations.
In the video announcement, Sifton said Blunt was “too weak” to stand up to the GOP’s election “lies” and said Missourians needed a senator who would “work every day to help your future, not just his own.” While Sifton faces an uphill battle in increasingly Republican Missouri, some Democrats say he can appeal to the state’s conservative electorate.
Asked what he would focus on during his campaign, Sifton said: “Ending this pandemic and healing the economic damage to families has to be our top priority. But it has to be done with an eye toward long-term inclusive economic growth.
“That means harnessing jobs and opportunity and making investments in infrastructure,” he said. “It’s also important that we protect Social Security and Medicare and address climate change.”
Sifton’s entry into the 2022 race is the first among Missouri Democrats after the party suffered resounding losses in the 2020 election. The Republican field is unsettled, with Blunt not yet saying whether he will run for reelection in 2022. He did not comment on Sifton’s announcement.
Sifton, in his 2016 state Senate campaign, won the endorsement of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, a police union that endorsed Republican Gov. Mike Parson in 2020. He also snagged endorsements from left-leaning groups such as Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club.
According to his website, several other unions endorsed him, including the Teamsters, Service Employees International Union and the Missouri AFL-CIO.
“There’s been a steady push against workers in this state whether they’re union or nonunion,” said state Sen. Doug Beck, D-south St. Louis County. “I think that that needs to be the focus of our Democratic Party. That we are the party of the working people. I think Scott can represent that for sure.”
Sifton, an attorney, served on the Affton School Board for nine years before he was elected to the Missouri House in 2010. He won election to the state Senate in 2012, flipping a formerly GOP-held seat that stretches from Oakville north to Brentwood. He won reelection in 2016.
Sifton considered a run for Missouri governor in 2019 but didn’t end up running, clearing the way for Democratic State Auditor Nicole Galloway.
Galloway lost by 17 percentage points to Parson, underscoring the challenge Sifton and other Democratic candidates would face in statewide contests.
Galloway said Monday she fully supports Sifton leading the party’s 2022 ticket, an indication top state Democrats will coalesce around his bid.
“Scott knows how to run and win a campaign focused on working families,” she said on Twitter. “He’s taken on corruption, fought against so-called right-to-work, supported health care expansion and strengthening public schools.”
Sifton said Monday that “we’re going to run hard” when asked if he anticipated a vigorous statewide campaign.
“We’re going to work as hard as we have to to win and make change for our state and for our country,” Sifton said.
Though Sifton may ultimately be running against Blunt for the Senate, his video announcement Monday started with a picture of U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, raising his fist to a crowd of President Donald Trump’s supporters on the day of the bloody Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Excited to announce I am running for United States Senator here in Missouri! Josh Hawley and Roy Blunt have shown us who they are. Now we have the chance to show who we are as Missourians. I need your help! Visit our campaign website at https://t.co/Qu5E65ZgUI to get started. pic.twitter.com/69fdUgY7fE— Scott Sifton (@ScottSifton) February 8, 2021
“When he raised his fist and betrayed our democracy, Josh Hawley showed us who he really is,” Sifton said. “And when Senator Blunt was too weak to stand up to his party’s lies, he showed us who he is too.
“So next year, when that Senate seat is on the ballot, we the people of Missouri need to show who we are,” Sifton said. “I’m Scott Sifton and I believe in a Missouri where we raise our hands to support voting rights, not violent insurrection; to salute classroom teachers, not cop killers; and to stand up for racial justice, not white supremacy.”