August 8, 2018: Primary Results... Trounced, Stomped and Spanked

It’s a speed-read morning as I try to hit the important news from last night.  Buckle up, here we go….


RTW Trounced

Organized labor carried the day.  They raised about $18 million, and rallied their members, issuing a decisive rebuke to the legislature.  By an unequivocal 45-point margin, Missourians rejected right to work 67.4% to 32.5%.

On the one hand, I can’t imagine that the General Assembly doesn’t tinker with labor reform again next session; it’s as natural for the Republican supermajority as saying the pledge of allegiance.  But I also can’t imagine that anyone seriously discusses right to work for the next decade.

Oddly, despite the big RTW vote, some of the most labor-friendly candidates (Hummel, Walker, Dolan) lost their primaries. 


Big Upset #1

Saundra McDowell won the Republican auditor primary.  She was massively outspent by David Wasinger.  The 8-Day reports showed Wasinger spent $452K (with another $312K in the bank itching for the general), while McDowell only spent $36K (with $3K left in the bank).

However the outcome didn’t surprise veteran reporter Jo Mannies because McDowell was the only woman in the four-way primary.  The talk: Wasinger’s expenditure wasn’t enough to cover the state effectively, and the gender split delivered her victory.

But – I heard from both sides of the aisle that they expect a court challenge to the legitimacy of McDowell’s candidacy.  Earlier this year the dogged Rudi Keller reported on questions concerning whether McDowell meets the residency requirement (ten years in the state) for the office.  Read it here.


Big Upset #2

I was actually more surprised by the Senate 4 outcome where Rep. Karla May defeated incumbent Jake Hummel.  Hummel had an actual campaign – staff, t-shirts, literature, mailers etc. While May’s 8-Day report was a Limited Activity report.

Together with the McDowell victory and a number of smaller House races, some observers saw it as a “women wave.”  But this could have also been the result of an energize African American base.  It’s a little early to know for sure.


Senate Race Starts

No surprise in the outcome of the US Senate primaries.  Incumbent Claire McCaskill defeated six no-names and won with 82%.  Attorney General Josh Hawley had stronger headwinds, taking 58% in his eleven-way primary. (Courtland Sykes grabbed around 2%).  One Republican texted me that Hawley polling under 60% was troublesome, a sign that his campaign has so far been lackluster.

But he will quickly consolidate the Republican base.  And like much of November, this race will probably be a referendum on the dominating, polarizing political figure of our time: President Donald Trump.  Trump, in fact, tweeted his congratulations to Hawley last night… I look forward to working with you toward a big win in November. We need you in Washington!


State Senate Races

A good night for Axiom Strategies.  Their three state senate candidates in hot primaries all won: Justin Brown (Senate 16), Cindy O’Laughlin (Senate 18), and Tony Luetkemeyer (Senate 34).  Meanwhile Rep. Bill White stomped Rob O’Brian in Senate 32 with 64% of the vote.  White was Victory Enterprises client.

As I wrote a week or two ago – it’s not clear that these Republican primaries offer any change in the outlook of the Senate leadership races or any meaningful ideological shift in the Senate. 

Yes, Nate Walker would have been softer on tort reform than O’Laughlin. And Harry Roberts might have been more inclined to join a Schaaf-esque alliance of renegade senators at various junctures.  But truthfully there wasn’t a whole lot of daylight on policy issues among this crop of candidates.

In Senate 14, Brian Williams nabbed Maria Chappelle-Nadal’s old seat.  (Chappelle-Nadal took 50% in her four-way House primary, by the way).  One lobbyist captures my thoughts with this text: Was there any polling more off than that of the 14th? What a hell of a job Brian Williams did not getting discouraged when everyone wrote him off. Wow.

And in Senate 22, Democrat Robert Butler prevailed easily (as expected) despite a last minute $23,500 independent expenditure against him by a pro-Paul Wieland PAC, JeffCo Now.  It was a nice gambit by Wieland supporters.  Maybe you knock off your toughest opponent, and at the least you poke him a bit.


STL County – Stenger Holds

Steve Stenger barely overcame Mark Mantovani with 50.3% of the vote. (See St. Louis County results here).  Stenger will be the clear favorite in November against Republican nominee Paul Berry

What It Means: The war between Stenger and the St. Louis County Council will persist for the foreseeable future. Tony Messenger tweets that Lisa Clancy’s win over Pat Dolan will make Stenger’s hand even weaker.  And I am told that the Council will continue with its investigation of Stenger.

ROTO (Reminder of the Obvious)

St. Louis County is the largest county in the state.  It’s important to the economic future of the state.  The continuation of in-fighting and dysfunctional county government is bad news for the state.


STL County – Bell Wins

In another upset of the evening, Wesley Bell ousted long-time pol, St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Bill McCulloch with 56% of the vote.  Here is a recent NYTimes interview with Bell that gives you a sense of what his campaign was about.

What about crime? It’s been continuously rising in the St. Louis metro area. How would your proposed reforms like ending cash bail or increasing diversionary programs for nonviolent offenders impact crime in the region?

If you take nonviolent offenders with drug addiction in jail, you’re only increasing the likelihood that they will reoffend. If we continue to incarcerate poor and economically challenged people with drug habits, if you take people with mental health problems and don’t give them the mental health that they need, they’re going to reoffend — and that’s what’s driving our crime rates up.

Research is clear: most people don’t jump right to violent crimes, and if you give someone the help that they need, they don’t progress to violent crimes. And if you look at it from a practical standpoint, my office would not prosecute misdemeanor amounts of marijuana. We’re not going to do it. Because even those cases require hours and hours of manpower and womanpower from the prosecutor’s office and we’re going to take those people who would been doing that misdemeanor marijuana case and we’re going to reassign them to more serious crimes.

[Mr. McCulloch’s office] is focused on low-hanging fruit because they want to get conviction rates. But under his leadership for the last 27 years, our crime rates have continued to soar.


Clay Holds

Congressman Lacy Clay turned back the insurgent challenge from Cori Bush by a solid 20-point margin 57% to 37%.


Former Reps

Two former state representatives won their primaries as they work their way back to Jefferson City. But two lost.

In House 9, Sheila Solon won 40% in a 4-way race where a couple 3rd parties came in to try to knock her down.

In House 102, Ron Hicks ekes out a 4-vote victory, 2,281 to 2,277.  I assume we’ll get a recount there.

In House 72, Eileen McGeoghegan placed third in a five-way Democratic primary.

And in House 82, Fred Krakty was spanked by Donna Baringer 73% to 26%.


More Results

Sen. Bob Dixon defeated incumbent Bob Cirtin (who has been under scrutiny) for the Republican Greene County Presiding Commissioner nomination.  He’ll face former Democratic Rep. Sara Lampe in November.  Some think Dixon’s Senate 30 seat could be a battleground this November.


Mark Richardson, the Cole County prosecutor who failed to charge Eric Greitens after AG Josh Hawley’s office sent him evidence of a false MEC filing, was upset by Locke ThompsonSee it here.


Austin Montee, the sprig of former auditor and beloved Democrat Susan Montee, narrowly lost his political debut in House, taking 49% of the vote against winner Shane Thompson.


Rep. Michael Butler unseated St. Louis’ long-time Recorder of Deed, taking 50% in a three-way race.


Looking to the General Election

This will obviously get fine-tuned in the weeks ahead, but here’s my initial “watch list” of possible battleground seats in Missouri this November.  Help me out MOScouters.  Tell me what’s safe and shouldn’t be on here, or what’ll be in play and is missing.


District 16 - Rolla

District 22 – Jefferson County

District 30 - Springfield

District 34 – St. Joe



District 11 – Galen Higdon termed

District 13 – Nick Marshall termed

District 14 – Kevin Corlew

District 17 – Mark Ellebracht

District 20 – Bill Kidd

District 31 – Dan Stacy

District 32 – Jeanie Lauer termed

District 35 – Gary Cross termed

District 44 – Cheri Reisch

District 47 – Chuck Basye

District 65 – Tom Hannegan

District 70 – Mark Matthiesen

District 94 – old Cloria Brown seat

District 97 – recent special election Mike Revis

District 104 – Kathie Conway termed

District 111 – Shane Roden

District 113 – Dan Shaul

District 114 – Becky Ruth

District 116 – Kevin Engler termed

District 118 – Ben Harris termed



There will be smoking wars this November. Recently an anti-smoking group delivered signatures for a ballot issue in St. Louis County.  Look for a counter measure – backed by casinos – to drop their signatures today.  This proposal would let establishment meeting certain criteria to maintain smoking and non-smoking areas.



Most likely to primary Mike Parson? Brad Lager.


I have been unable to pull up the SOS website all night. This is the [stuff] that kills politicians. [written at 9:08PM]


Help Wanted

Senate weeks Writer.  “The Missouri Senate is seeking a strong staff writer who would be required to prepare press releases, speeches, newsletter articles and other legislative publications under close deadlines and must also have experience in publication layout. Ideal candidates will have a degree in journalism or a closely related field and/or a minimum of three years experience as a writer. Experience with the legislative branch or the ability to understand and quickly learn the legislative process is preferred…” See it here.


$5K+ Contributions

Missouri Federation for Children PAC - $14,682 from American Democracy Alliance – Ridgley PAC.

POL PAC - $13,000 from J.E. Dunn Construction Company.

Jackson County Cares - $6,000 from Truman Heartland Community Foundation.

Jackson County Cares - $100,000 from Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

Missouri Energy Development Association Political Action Committee - $50,000 from Spire Missouri.

Raise Up Missouri - $17,582 from 2018 Ballot Fund.

Raise Up Missouri - $82,100 from 2018 Ballot Fund.



Happy birthdays to Shawn Furey, Robbyn Wahby, and Greta Bax.