Ed Martin ousts David Cole as Missouri GOP chairman

Missouri News Horizon
COLUMBIA, Mo.
— After a dismal year for statewide candidates, Missouri Republicans decided to appoint new leadership to lead the party as it attempts to rebuild a statewide infrastructure

On Saturday, the Missouri Republican State Committee elected Ed Martin to serve as party chairman, voting 34 to 32 against incumbent David Cole. The vote came down to a second ballot. Former State Sen. Jane Cunningham pulled seven votes in the first round, which was not enough to advance.

Martin, a former staff member for Gov. Matt Blunt and most recently chairman of the Republican National Committee’s ‘Victory 2012’ effort in Missouri, told committee members he hopes to make the party more “relevant” to more voters in the state.

“We need to empower each other and build an operation to say to our friends, the opportunity for all we believe in is what we want you to sign on to,” Martin said, pointing out his hope for the party to reach out to more women and minorities.

Cole had received unanimous support from the state’s congressional delegation and most statewide officials, but lost on Saturday in part due to the party’s failure in nearly every statewide election last November. Speaking to members of the committee, Cole defended his work — particularly having to do with U.S. Rep. Todd Akin’s damaging U.S. Senate campaign.

“When the national party was criticizing Congressman Akin, you didn’t hear that from us,” he said, pointing out the party’s late infusion of cash into the final days of Akin’s candidacy.

In addition to Martin’s election, the party elected Trish Vincent to serve as vice chairwoman. Cole’s defeat and the election of Vincent — who serves as chief of staff to Tom Schweich — comes as the party is revamping for the election in 2014, when Schweich should be the only statewide officer seeking reelection.

Schweich was the only major Missouri official not to endorse Cole for reelection.

Saturday’s election took place with secret ballot. The committee voted to destroy the ballots after the election, pursuant to state law.