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Campaign managers in state treasurer race share idealism

September 21, 2000
By: Lauren Shepherd
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The campaign managers for two people seeking to be Missouri's next state treasurer both describe themselves as idealists who are fiercely committed to their candidates.

But the personalities of Judi Roman and Jeff Roe could not be more different.

Roman is the campaign manager for the Democratic candidate for state treasurer, Nancy Farmer. Roman, a native of Ohio, won't disclose her age -- although describing her age as "older than dirt." A resident of Missouri for 35 years, Roman is no stranger to the state or its politics.

She began her political career in 1984 when she worked as the press secretary for the successful lieutenant governor campaign of Harriet Woods -- a former Democratic state senator. Roman also worked with Woods in her failed race for the U.S. Senate in 1986.

Woods, who was the first woman to be elected to state-wide office in 1976, pointed Roman toward her political passion -- women in politics.

"Women need as much encouragement as they can get in politics," Roman said.

She added that she thinks women still aren't seen as equals in politics.

"We're not there yet," she said.

After working with Woods, Roman became the campaign manager for St. Louis Mayor Clarence Harmon in 1996.

But it was when she worked as the communications director for the Missouri House Democratic Caucus in 1996, that Roman laid the groundwork for her current job as the campaign manager for Farmer who had served in the House from 1992 to 1997.

The two "worked together pretty closely" in the Caucus and when Farmer began thinking about running for Treasurer, she turned to Roman for advice.

"I'd been involved in statewide campaigns so I was a sounding board for her," she said.

Besides her experience running campaigns, Roman also has her hand in the media consulting business. Roman has owned and run her own consulting firm, Roman Communications in St. Louis, for more than 10 years.

Roman credits her experience, as well as a targeted direct mail and radio campaign, with Farmer's primary win last month.

But for Jeff Roe, the campaign manager for Republican Todd Graves, this is his first statewide campaign.

Roe, a 29-year-old from Brookfield, Mo., began volunteering for campaigns in high school, putting up yard signs, handing out fliers and licking stamps for several state legislature candidates. His first paid campaign job was right after his graduation from Northwest Missouri State University in 1994.

Roe worked as the deputy campaign manager for a Republican state legislator, Sam Graves, who was running for State Senate. Graves won the race. Roe also worked on Graves's reelection campaign in 1998.

As the deputy campaign manager, Roe got to know the Graves family, especially Sam Graves's brother, Todd. When Todd Graves decided to run for state treasurer, he asked Roe to manage his campaign.

Although Roe admits that he's never run a state-wide campaign, he said he does have organization skills and "a relentless desire to raise money."

"I just feel like I'm personally driven every day," he added. "I once called a contributor 27 times in St. Louis to take a meeting with Todd."

Roe uses that tenacity in his personal life to umpire baseball in Division 1 and Division 2 high school and college games all over the state.

Roe gets his enthusiasm for politics from his family. His grandmother was heavily involved in Republican politics as a Goldwater Republican and went to the 1964 Republican convention.

"Politics was just talked about at the kitchen and dining room table," he said.

The family background in politics gave Roe an idealism that Roman also shares.

"I knew there was a difference in who was elected," Roe said. "What amazes me in politics is the lengths that people go to help the candidate win. It's energizing."

Roman agreed, saying politics "gives me a sense of action."

"Everything you do in politics affects the world we live in," she said.

Roman said she will continue to work in her consulting firm after the election.

On the other side, Roe said he plans to keep working with Graves if he is elected. Otherwise, he will find another campaign and another candidate to believe in.