JEFFERSON CITY - Campaigning for state treasurer has pretty much taken over the life of Rep. Clint Zweifel, D-St. Louis County.
"I'll have to relearn my hobbies after this election," Zweifel said with a laugh.
He said he used to be an avid runner. He also liked to go fishing and to cook dinner at home with his family.
When he's not traveling around the state and attending events, Zweifel tries to spend as much time with his family as he can.
Saturday night, Zweifel and his wife, Janice, played board games with their two adopted daughters since he was able to get home earlier than usual.
They were the foster parents of the same two girls for five years before they recently adopted them officially.
"Family, obviously, for anyone, isn't something you take for granted," Zweifel said. "It's hard to talk (about). It's such a wonderful experience; it's hard to put it into words. But it's unbelievably rewarding."
His own childhood was spent in Florissant, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, in a relatively new community of a lot young families built around automobile plants and subcontractors for those plants. His father and grandfather were carpenters; his mother was a hairdresser.
"In many ways, my community, the neighborhood I grew, my childhood itself was a picture of what's right with making sure that we have a strong middle class and the importance of having a strong middle class," Zweifel said.
Both of his parents, Zweifel said, would work hard and then get involved in their local community. His father was a leader in his Boy Scout troop, and his mother was a room mother at his grade school.
"They set a good example of what a good work ethic is about, what giving back to your community is about," he said.
"They stepped up to the plate and did things that helped really bring the community together in a larger way," he continued.
Their example taught Zweifel what it means to be a good person, he said, and a career in public service was a natural extension of that.
The tough times his parents faced also taught Zweifel to be financially responsible.
"Watching them go through times when potentially work wasn't accessible or available," he said. "I remember a time back when I was a senior in high school, when there just wasn't a lot of work out there."
He said they balanced the budget, made cuts where they had to but still provided everything the family needed.
The first in his family to attend college and graduate, Zweifel attended the University of Missouri-St. Louis for both his bachelor's degree in political science and master's degree in business administration.
"Walking onto a college campus for the first time is still one of the highlight of my life," he said. "Being able to be exposed to that. I remember going through the process and feeling like it was sort of a dream as I was living it."
Zweifel was active at the university. He was the managing editor of The Current, the student newspaper, and vice president of the student government.
He met his wife, Janice, while he was campaigning for student government. They attended some Political Science Academy meetings together and "before we knew it we were dating," Zweifel said.
In 2003, he graduated from student government to the Missouri House of Representatives, in which he represented the 78th District for six years.
He narrowly beat the Republican incumbent by just 67 votes out of more than 12,000 cast.
"Working in the House is a rewarding experience because it teaches you pretty quickly how to manage relationships when you have 163 state representatives, both parties, from different parts of the states," Zweifel said.
Zweifel said elected state office holders should bring values and ideas to the table. If the treasurer was a non-political office where the sole duty is to manage the books, the job should be appointed.
"He does view it as a bully pulpit and he does want to encourage other types of legislation," Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, said. "He views it as more than just the state's chief investment officer."
Zweifel said this is a significant policy difference between him and his opponent, Sen. Brad Lager, R-Maryville.
"He believes government should have virtually no role in helping provide opportunities for Missouri families," Zweifel said about Lager.
Some of the issues Zweifel has raised during the campaign include the importance of accessible and affordable public education, a strong and growing economy and making investments in health care.
He also said he would be fiscally responsible; manage the state's investment portfolio wisely, especially in light of the current market, and with non-terror related organizations and companies; and ensure the fees to use MOST, the college-savings program, are as low as possible.
"The biggest and most important thing and the central role of this office is to make sure that we're managing taxpayer assets responsibly, efficiently and in way that provides the least risk as possible to those taxpayers," Zweifel said.
In campaigning for the statewide position, Zweifel said he gets to meet Missourians across the country.
"The best part is traveling the state and meeting people and realizing how much Missourians have in common, no matter what area they're from or part of the state, or whether they're from suburban, urban or rural Missouri," he said. "Many of the concerns are very similar in all those places."
Funding the campaign can be difficult though, and campaigns are expensive, Zweifel said.
At a fund-raising event in Columbia, on Oct. 7, Zweifel met with Columbia residents and local politicians, such as Mary Still and Judy Baker.
One Columbia resident and host of the event, Brian Pape, met Zweifel for the first time at the event. Pape describes himself as an Independent, who has been supporting Democrats this election.
"He's very personable, and just he seemed like a regular guy," Pape said. "So, there was no barrier, no standoffishness. There was a real approachability."
Former Democratic Gov. Roger Wilson also sang Zweifel's praises in his introduction to the candidate at the event.
"If you can't get along with Clint Zweifel, you can't get along with anybody. It's really that simple," Wilson said.
Wilson also said Zweifel is bright and hardworking.
"If you think it's going to be a guy that just kind of likes to watch...and take his pay check and go home, you're in for a different ride," Wilson said. "I'm serious. He's not a little baby. You don't have to wonder what the hell he's doing every minute of the day."
Zweifel describes himself as "sincere, disciplined and focused."