Election preview: Five state executive seats on tomorrow's primary ballot in Missouri
SPRINGFIELD, Missouri: There are five state executive seats up for election this year in Missouri: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer. In the race for treasurer, there are no contested primaries.
A total of 36 candidates are running for state executive office. Four of the five incumbents are seeking re-election; Robin Carnahan, the current secretary of state, is retiring from office. Third party candidates are making a strong showing this year: the Libertarian Party has a candidate in each of the five races and the Constitution Party has candidates in the elections for governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state.
Candidates are listed below in the order in which they will appear on tomorrow's ballot. In Missouri, candidates who filed on the first day of filing (February 28, 2012) "selected a number by random drawing to determine their placement on the primary ballot. After the first day, all candidates are placed on the ballot in order of their filing."
Compared to the heated race for lieutenant governor, the primary races for governor have been relatively quiet. Incumbent Jay Nixon has enjoyed popularity ratings around 46% among Missouri's voters and is expected to easily win his party's nomination tomorrow. He faces two lesser-known Democratic challengers: Clay Thunderhawk and William Campbell.
The Republican ticket also have some unfamiliar names - none of the four candidates have held public office before. Dave Spence, a St. Louis businessman, has held a 20 point lead in the polls over his closest opponent, attorney and former preacher Bill Randles. But when the two were paired up in hypothetical match-ups against Nixon, they were almost equal, with Spence (with 34%) earning 2% more in the polls than Randles. The Republicans in the race are Fred Sauer and John Weiler.
The Democratic ticket is a crowded affair, with eight candidates vying for the nomination. Former state Auditor Susan Montee has a clear fundraising advantage over the rest of the field and has picked up a key endorsement from The Kansas City Star.
In 2011, incumbent lieutenant governor Peter Kinder (R) was considering a run for the state's top office, challenging Gov. Jay Nixon (D) for his seat. A poll his campaign financed showed him trailing Nixon 48-41 in August 2011, just days before the Riverfront Times broke with a sex scandal that caused Kinder to lose support from some key political allies. He decided to seek a third term in office (a rarity in Missouri) and has drawn four primary challengers, the most formidable of whom is state Senator Brad Lager.
Since Lager's entry into the race, the Republican contest has been one of the most contentious primaries of this election season. The two have been trying to "out conservative" each other for months, with Kinder touting his accomplishments while in office (including a prescription drug plan for seniors) and Lager drawing attention to Kinder's relationship with a former stripper and questionable travel expenses. Kinder had a more than 20 point lead in the polls, but nearly 25% of voters were undecided as of late July. Lager has a fundraising advantage and received a big boost when two of Kinder's biggest donors shifted their support to Lager. Whether or not that support will be enough to sway the undecided voters tomorrow remains to be seen.
Incumbent Chris Koster (D) is running for a second term as Attorney General this year. He is unopposed in the Democratic primary on August 7. It appeared at first that Koster, who was elected to his first term in 2008, would coast into his next term without more than nominal opposition in the general election. Then, on January 26, St. Louis attorney Ed Martin, who served as chief of staff to Governor Matt Blunt from 2006-2008, announced his intentions to run for attorney general on the Republican ticket.
Martin began the 2012 election season as a candidate for U.S. Senate. He then set his sights on U.S. House, seeking to represent Missouri's 2nd District. The streak of indecision ended, however, upon determining his "almost obsession with stopping the president's health care reform law," could be served more effectively through the office of attorney general than a seat in Congress.
The arrival of a serious competitor and his accompanying high volume of complaints against the office's current leadership, could have derailed Koster's, and the Democratic party's, hopes. Instead, Martin's entrance into the race roused a tremendous wave of fundraising support for Koster. Between the launch of Martin's campaign and the March 28 filing deadline, Koster raised over $678,000 — "nearly five times the amount he raised in the last three months of 2011." Not to be outdone, Martin created a donation-targeted portal page for his campaign website composed of thermometer graphics and invitations contribute to the campaign, all under a large heading that begs, "I need YOUR help to defeat Obama's Lawyer Chris Koster!" For a while after the filing deadline, one had to pass through this portal in order to gain full access to the website. Martin has the backing of the Missouri Republican Party, lieutenant governor Peter Kinder, and former Missouri and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, and several other prominent statewide and national party leaders. Texas governor Rick Perry stumped for the candidate in June.
Martin's immense support base and general election posturing notwithstanding, the Republican primary for attorney general has a second contender, Livingston County Prosecutor and Chillicothe City Attorney Adam Warren. He is also vying for the nomination on August 7 and, like Martin, pinned his platform on challenging Obamacare. Warren trails Koster and Martin in fundraising by a severe margin, but believes that his fresh face and small town roots will appeal to an electorate tired of candidates bringing their political baggage into office. Warren was endorsed by The Kansas City Star in the Republican primary election for attorney general of Missouri. The newspaper published its endorsement roughly two weeks before the August 7 primary. Explaining their decision to back Warren, the Missouri-based publication cited the potential he has shown as a prosecutor and a candidate, and added, "His opponent in the GOP primary, Ed Martin, was a disaster when he was former governor Matt Blunt’s chief of staff."
Libertarian Dave Browning is the only third party candidate seeking the position of Missouri's top law enforcement officer in 2012. Browning ran unsuccessfully for U.S. House of Representatives, District 6, back in 2008. In an interview posted on his campaign website, Browning assailed his opponents Koster and Martin for trying to use government to, respectively, "compel" and "impose" morality on the people, and that most important issue in the current attorney general race was "The proper use of power to renew our constitutional Republic." He will face Chris Koster and the winner of the Tuesday's GOP primary in the general election on November 6.
Two term Democratic Incumbent Robin Carnahan's decision to retire as Missouri Secretary of State at the end of her term invited a broad field of hopeful successors - a total of seven candidates spanning four parties - to the 2012 candidate roster.
The two Democratic candidates are State Representative and Afghanistan vet Jason Kander and National Chairman of US National Democratic Party Asian American Caucus MD Rabbi Alam. Presumptive nominee Kander wants to use the office to simplify the process of starting a small business in Missouri and pledged to continue the work he did in the [Missouri House of Representatives|State House]] to enhance veteran participation in state government. He also campaigned on the need to raise ethical standards of campaigns and lobbies. His primary opponent Alam seeks the position to increase the rights and opportunities for immigrants.
The Republican primary race between two State Senators, Scott Rupp and Bill Stouffer, and one State House Representative, Shane Schoeller, is widely considered to be "a toss up." Rupp plans to use his background as a small business-owner to reach out to Missouri's small business owners, farmers in particular. He is also running on his consistent conservative record as a state senator, having twice helped pass voter-ID legislation to tackle voter-fraud and spearheading a ballot initiative in opposition to Obamacare. Stouffer, who announced his bid for the office of Missouri's top elections official over a year ago, is determined to use the position to defend elections against fraud. He sponsored the Voter-ID bill in the State Senate saying “Missouri has a rich history of competitive, close elections and the current measures we take to verify the integrity of these elections are unacceptable.” Schoeller's campaign focuses are on reducing business regulations and his plan to establish bipartisan commissions comprised of elected officials and citizens which will promote clarity in the language of ballot initiatives and ensure the integrity of the election process. The three lawmakers participated in a series of debates leading up the August 7 primary election, during which they addressed popular issues like voter-ID legislation and business regulations.
There are two third party candidates seeking to replace Carnahan as well. Libertarian candidate Cisse Spragins, who ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2010, and the elusive Justin Harter, of the Constitution party, will appear on the November ballots.
In preparation for passing the torch to one of these candidates, Carnahan, who refrained from endorsing anyone in the race, instructed her TBD successor to improve government efficiency and protect Missourians voting rights. She also imparted a morsel of wisdom regarding people's high expectations for government to deliver to both sides of the aisle, saying, "The secretary of state serves everybody and ought to do it in a nonpartisan way."
Democrat Clint Zweifel was first elected Missouri Treasurer in 2008, previously serving in the Missouri House of Representatives from 2002 - 2008. As he seeks a second term in office, Zweifel does not face a primary opponent and will be up against current state Rep. Cole McNary (R) in the general election. McNary also does not face a primary opponent. Sean O'Toole, who made an unsuccessful bid for the state House in 2010, is running as a Libertarian.
With no primary challenges, the race has been quiet thus far.
- Missouri elections, 2012
- Missouri state executive official elections, 2012
- Missouri gubernatorial election, 2012
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- Missouri attorney general election, 2012
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- Missouri down ballot state executive elections, 2012
- Missouri Secretary of State, "Certified candidate filing: Primary," accessed August 6, 2012
- Public Policy Polling, "Nixon leads Spence, Randles by big but shrinking margins," May 31, 2012
- Missouri Ethics Commission, "Susan Montee," July 16, 2012
- Kansas City Star, "The Star's recommendations: The top candidates for state offices in Missouri," July 27, 2012
- Huffington Post, "Peter Kinder, Missouri Lt. Governor, embroiled in stripper scandal (VIDEO)," October 25, 2011
- LA Times, "Missouri's lieutenant governor faces stripper issues," August 24, 2011
- St. Louis Beacon, "Kinder, Lager each claim to be the real conservative in GOP lt. governor primary," July 16, 2012
- St. Louis Today, "Peter Kinder holds firm lead in lieutenant governor race" July 28, 212
- St. Louis Today, "Ed Martin switches races again, will now pursue AG," January 27, 2012
- STL today "Rival gains: Opposition has done wonders for AG Chris Koster's fundraising," March 28, 2012
- Ed Martin for Attorney General, "Portal," accessed June 27, 2012
- PoliticMo, "Former US, Missouri AG Ashcroft endorses Martin," March 1, 2012
- Ed Martin for Missouri Attorney General, "Gov. Rick Perry, Ed Martin to Hold Rally in Cape Girardeau," June 29, 2012
- News Press Now, "Rural prosecutor enters AG race," accessed February 23, 2012
- The Kansas City Star, "The Star’s recommendations | The top candidates for state offices in Missouri," July 27, 2012
- Project Vote Smart "Dave Browning-Biography, " accessed March 28, 2012
- Libertarian Patriot, "Dave Browning for Attorney General 2012," accessed July 17, 2012
- Rupp for Missouri "Home," accessed March 27, 2012
- Politic MO "Incumbent Carnahan and Republican Stouffer to run for secretary of state," February 25, 2011
- News Press Now "Secretary of State candidate targets regulations," March 15, 2012
- Kirksville Daily Express, "Carnahan says no politics for next SOS," April 21, 2012
- Moberly Monitor, "Decisions to be made in primary election Aug. 7," July 27, 2012