By Erin Achenbach
Although Lindbergh Schools community volunteer Erica Hoffman lost her bid for the 96th District Missouri House seat on Nov. 6 to Republican incumbent Rep. David Gregory, she said she might run again.
Gregory was set to be sworn into a second term alongside other legislators as the legislative session opens Jan. 9 — after the Call went to press.
Hoffman, the first Democrat in eight years to run in the 96th District, lost to Gregory 59 percent to 41 percent, or 11,901 to 8,303. And she hinted it may not be the last time she challenges Gregory.
In a post to her campaign’s Facebook page Nov. 8, Hoffman encouraged her supporters to hold onto their yard signs or give them back to her until the next election cycle.
“If you still have a yard sign, please don’t throw it out,” she wrote in the Facebook post. “I’ll stop by and pick it up if you PM me your address. I can store those until next time.”
Despite the loss, however, she has maintained a positive attitude about the experience.
“I’m not disappointed with the outcome. Of course candidates want to win, but am I sad right now? Absolutely not,” Hoffman said after the loss. “I am very proud with the way we ran.”
A newcomer to public office, Hoffman is involved in multiple parent-teacher organizations across Lindbergh.
She hadn’t thought about running until she was approached by a group of parents.
“As someone who has never even run for public office before, it never even occurred to me to run,” she said. “Knowing I gave voters a choice and ran on a platform to advocate for truly good causes…that’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in my mind.”
Hoffman points to her opponent’s incumbency and fundraising as some of the reasons why she felt the election turned out the way that it did.
“He had the opportunity to raise more money as the incumbent. He spent like $300,000, whereas my campaign had like $30,000,” said Hoffman. “I mean, he was running commercials on TV. I couldn’t even think about that. We were a grassroots campaign. It was primarily… PTO moms and some dads too.
“But you know, we were just kinda flying by the seat of our pants for everything we did.”
Over the course of 2018, President Donald Trump visited Missouri five times.
“I think it hurt a lot of Missouri Democrats across the state because it just helped promote the Republican platform much more strongly,” Hoffman said.
Like many candidates across south county, Hoffman said the issues she heard most about from voters changed with the election cycle and the news cycle, ranging from then-Gov. Eric Greitens to now-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“Early on, a lot of voters were concerned about Greitens. I was hearing that from people on both sides. Then he stepped down and it’s like people forgot about that pretty quickly,” said Hoffman.
“Then the Kavanaugh issue hit. That changed everything…. It felt like that really changed a lot. It kinda made up people’s minds at the end.”
However, as the first person to run as a Democrat in the 96th District in eight years, Hoffman felt she found support.
“A lot of individuals in the community were really glad that I was running, that they had someone to vote for at the polls,” said Hoffman.
“Nobody had run as a Democrat in eight years. I was the first person to be able to do that. I think that’s something, that I made it through an election and we did it in a positive way.”
Hoffman, who said she focused on running a positive campaign, said that “things got hard” toward the end of the race when she felt she was on the receiving end of false mailers.
“I’m just really happy that I ran. It was a really great experience,” said Hoffman. “I hope more people decide to step up and run.”