SIKESTON - It may be their names on the August ballot, but Gary Branum and Steve Hodges, candidates for state representative for the 161 District, say the work leading up to election day is a family affair.
Sending e-mails, walking door-to-door, encouraging people to register to vote, it's all in a day's work for the families of Branum and Hodges.
"You would never know how time consuming it is until you actually get into it," said Becky Branum, Branum's wife. "We have helped with campaigns before but it was nothing like this."
"The campaign is mentally and physically exhausting," said Hodges. "It's not like running for something like city council. This takes a whole family effort."
This is the first time either has run for state office, and both said they are only able to do so with the help of their family.
At this point in the campaign the two candidates said the biggest job is "getting out there and letting people know where you stand on an issue." The families are now focusing their time and efforts in this area.
"My wife is very supportive," said Hodges. "She does everything from attending conferences with me to knocking on doors. She will even sing 'God Bless America' at an Elks Democratic Party fund-raiser later this summer."
Branum said he has also received vast amounts of support from his wife.
"She is wonderful," said Branum. "She writes and edits letters, goes to functions with me and always makes sure I am where I need to be, which is very important when things start to get hectic."
It is not only the spouses, but the children also get into the act.
Branum has a 17-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, who he said is doing great work.
"She has walked in parades and even introduced me to people older than I am," Gary Branum said. "Right now she is actually out helping some of her friends register to vote."
Hodges has gotten some of the same help from his son and daughter-in-law who live in the area.
"My son James and his wife have done a lot in New Madrid, appearing at events and helping to get the word out."
Although the families perform many tasks, the candidates agreed the support and encouragement they have received from their families are the greatest help.
"They push the fire out of me," said Branum. "This has been a big change for me and there is no way I could do it without them. When you know they believe in you, that gives you an extra burst of energy to keep going."
"It is important that they are willing to put up with a lot and they have been more than helpful. It is a full-time job and they are totally behind me," Hodges said.