Ballotpedia's 2012 General Election Preview Articles: Missouri State Executive Officials

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November 1, 2012

By Maresa Strano

Portal:State Executive Officials

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.

Four of the five incumbents are seeking re-election; Robin Carnahan, the current secretary of state, is retiring from office.

In the primary election, which was held on August 7th, only the race for treasurer was completely uncontested.

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 will be represented on the general election ballot, with a candidate running for lieutenant governor and secretary of state.

In Missouri, all polling places are open from 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM Central Time .[1] See also: State Poll Opening and Closing Times (2012).

 Candidates for governor 
See also: Missouri gubernatorial election, 2012

Democratic Party Jay Nixon (D) Incumbent
Republican Party Dave Spence (R)
Libertarian Party Jim Higgins (L)

Incumbent Jay Nixon (D) is running for a second term as Governor of Missouri in 2012. He won the August 7th Democratic primary election and will face Republican Dave Spence and Libertarian Jim Higgins in the general election in November.[2]

Spence, a businessman from St. Louis, officially announced his candidacy on November 15, 2011. The move was a surprise to many Republicans, as Spence had previously said he would only run if current Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, believed to be the preferred GOP candidate, did not.[3] Three days after Spence's announcement, Kinder said he would not be seeking the nomination for governor, but would seek another term as lieutenant governor instead.[4] Spence went on to defeat Bill Randles, Fred Sauer and John Weiler in the Republican primary.[5]

In the months leading up to the general election, polls have consistently shown Nixon leading by a comfortable margin over his Republican challenger, and race ratings suggest a strong probability of Nixon winning. Despite his diminishing threat to Nixon's re-election, as of October, Spence's determination to unseat Nixon has only intensified, with streams of profile-raising TV spots and massive 11th-hour donations from the Republican Governors Association to match Nixon's million-dollar infusion from his party's counterpart organization.[6] According to campaign finance reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Spence threw an additional $500,000 of his own money into his campaign on October 24th, bringing his tab for this election cycle up a hefty $5 million.[7]

The negative advertising campaigns on both sides culminated on October 12th when Spence filed a defamation lawsuit against Nixon in Cole County Circuit Court for an advertisement claiming Spence used his position as a bank board member to arrange an "insider loan" of federal bailout money to buy a vacation home. Spence firmly denies any link between the loan and the $40 million in bailout money the bank received in 2009, before he joined the board, and says he was not present when the other board officials made their decision to approve the $1.1 million loan.[8]

Partly in reaction to the banker ads, Spence told the press days before filing suit that Nixon had "sold his soul to the devil" trying to win re-election.[8]

Nixon's campaign manager refused requests to take down the ad, where it is airing in markets across Missouri. "You see a lot of crazy stunts during the course of a campaign, but this frivolous lawsuit is misguided and desperate," he said.[8]

 Candidates for lieutenant governor 
See also: Missouri lieutenant gubernatorial election, 2012
Democratic Party Susan Montee (D)
Republican Party Peter Kinder (R) Incumbent
Libertarian Party Matthew Copple (Libertarian)
Constitution Party Cynthia Davis (Constitution)

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, just days before the Riverfront Times broke with a sex scandal that caused Kinder to lose support from some key political allies.[9][10]

Kinder dropped out of the gubernatorial race on November 18, stating he would run for re-election as lieutenant governor instead.[11] He faced state Senator Brad Lager in what was one of the election cycle's most contentious primary races.

In the end, Kinder defeated Lager and will face Susan Montee (D), Matthew Copple (L) and Constitution Party candidate Cynthia Davis in the general election.[12]

Polls show Kinder's lead over Montee narrowing over the months since the primary, and Montee has improved her name recognition substantially since the beginning of the campaign season.[13]

 Candidates for Secretary of State 
See also: Missouri secretary of state election, 2012
Democratic Party Jason Kander (D)
Republican Party Shane Schoeller (R)
Libertarian Party Cisse Spragins (Libertarian)
Constitution Party Justin Harter (Constitution)

After two terms as Missouri Secretary of State, Democrat Robin Carnahan decided to not run for re-election in 2012.[14] The race to replace her is rated as a toss-up.

In the primary election on August 7th, state representative and Afghanistan vet Jason Kander handily defeated MD Rabbi Alam for the Democratic nomination. Kander's campaign emphasizes his record as a war veteran and in the state house as an advocate for campaign finance and ethics reform. He pledges to simplify the process of starting a small business in Missouri, increase veteran participation in state government, and expand voting rights. He took a firm stance against the voter-ID bill sponsored by fellow state lawmaker and Republican nominee Shane Schoeller, believing it disenfranchised military voters overseas.[15]

Schoeller's road to the GOP nomination was not as smooth, having faced two formidable state senators in the primary. The tight race was among the last to be called after the polls closed, with Schoeller eeking out a victory of less than one percentage point over second place finisher Scott Rupp. His campaign has focused on reducing business regulations and his plan to establish bipartisan commissions composed of elected officials and citizens to improve clarity in the language of ballot initiatives. He also wants to use the office to continue his efforts in the house to ensure the integrity of the election process by combating voter fraud.[16] Schoeller was an administrative aide for secretary of state Matt Blunt, experience he says would ease the transition.[17]

Kander and Schoeller disagree on most issues, from how to approach voter-ID and ballot language to the role of the business services division, but the contest's most heated moments were about money. Kander, a self-styled champion of campaign finance reform, accused Schoeller of unethical fundraising practices such as accepting sizable campaign contributions from a financier and political activist Rex Sinquefield. Schoeller reacted by calling Kander a hypocrite, pointing out that Democratic incumbent attorney general Chris Koster also took money Sinquefield and that campaign finance policy is not the province of the secretary of state. Together, the candidates are spending millions in the weeks leading up to the general election on campaign advertising. Kander, who had trailed Schoeller in fundraising for most of the race, has a reported $1 million saved to spend on last minute television spots, while Schoeller's leaning on in-kind contributions from the billboard industry to boost his profile.[17]

There are two third party hopefuls in the race as well. Libertarian candidate Cisse Spragins, who ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2010, and latecomer Justin Harter, of the Constitution party, will appear on the November ballots alongside Kander and Schoeller.

In preparation for passing the torch to one of these candidates, Carnahan, who refrained from endorsing anyone in the race, instructed her successor to improve government efficiency and protect Missourians voting rights. She also imparted a message about 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."[18]

 Candidates for Attorney General 
See also: Missouri attorney general election, 2012
Democratic Party Chris Koster (D) Incumbent
Republican Party Ed Martin (R)
Libertarian Party Dave Browning (L)

Incumbent Chris Koster (D) is seeking a second term as Attorney General this year. It appeared at first that Koster, who was first elected in 2008, would coast into his second 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 as a Republican candidate.

Attorney general is the third office Martin has set his sights on during the 2012 election season. He was previously running for U.S. Senate, and for the U.S. House, representing Missouri's 2nd District, but decided to switch to the attorney general's race in tribute to his "almost obsession with stopping the president's health care reform law."[19] Martin scored a decisive victory against single opponent Adam Warren in the Republican primary election, earning a place on the November ballot alongside Koster and Libertarian Dave Browning.

In terms of competitiveness, the attorney general race has held steady as Leaning Democratic.[20][21] Though the major party candidates have maintained a close rivalry throughout the election season in endorsements and fundraising, Koster's advantage - which is attributed to the power of incumbency and Martin's reputation as being hot-tempered, among other factors - grew considerably in the polls between August and October.

Browning was the last candidate to enter the race for attorney general. Browning ran unsuccessfully for U.S. House of Representatives, District 6, back in 2008.[22] 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."[23]

 Candidates for State Treasurer 
See also: Missouri down ballot state executive elections, 2012

Democratic Party Clint Zweifel (D)Incumbent
Republican Party Cole McNary (R)
Libertarian Party Sean O'Toole (L)

Democratic incumbent 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 skated through the primary unopposed and will be up against current state Rep. Cole McNary (R) in the general election. Also in the race is Libertarian Sean O'Toole, who made an unsuccessful bid for the state House in 2010.[24]

The relatively quiet race is likely to go in favor of the incumbent. Limited polling data indicates that Zweifel has an ample lead over McNary heading into the general election.[25]

See also



Ballotpedia News
  1. Missouri Elections, "FAQs" (dead link)
  2. Missouri Secretary of State, "Election Night Reporting: Unofficial primary results," accessed August 8, 2012
  3. St. Louis Post Dispatch, "David Spence to enter Republican primary for governor," November 16, 2011
  4. KY3, "Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder won't run for governor," November 18, 2011
  5. AP Election Results-Campaign 2012, "Missouri-Summary Vote Results," August 7, 2012
  6. St Louis Post-Dispatch, "Missouri Republican Spence gets $950k from GOP governors group," October 9, 2012
  7. Missouri Ethics Commission, "Dave Spence Pre-General Election Campaign Finance Report," accessed October 30, 2012
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 The Columbia Tribune, "Spence files defamation suit," October 13, 2012
  9. Huffington Post, "Peter Kinder, Missouri Lt. Governor, embroiled in stripper scandal (VIDEO)," October 25, 2011
  10. LA Times, "Missouri's lieutenant governor faces stripper issues," August 24, 2011
  11. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Peter Kinder drops out of governor's race," November 19, 2011
  12. Missouri Secretary of State, "Election night reporting: Unofficial election results," accessed August 8, 2012
  13. Public Policy Polling, October 19-21, 2012
  14., "Robin Carnahan will not run for a third term as secretary of state," accessed October 1, 2011
  15. The Huffington Post, "Shane Schoeller, Missouri Legislator, Says Voter ID Bill Wouldn't Disenfranchise Troops," April 18, 2012
  16. News Press Now, "Secretary of State candidate targets regulations," March 15, 2012 (dead link)
  17. 17.0 17.1 St-Louis Beacon, "In race for secretary of state, Kander and Schoeller emphasize their differences," October 17, 2012
  18. Kirksville Daily Express, "Carnahan says no politics for next SOS," April 21, 2012 (dead link)
  19. St. Louis Today, "Ed Martin switches races again, will now pursue AG," January 27, 2012
  20. Governing Politics, "," October 12, 2012
  21. Governing Politics, "Attorney General Races: Dems Still Playing Defense," March 28, 2012
  22. Project Vote Smart, "Dave Browning-Biography, " accessed March 28, 2012
  23. Libertarian Patriot, "Dave Browning for Attorney General 2012," accessed July 17, 2012
  24. Moberly Monitor, "Decisions to be made in primary election Aug. 7," July 27, 2012 (dead link)
  25. Chilenski Strategies Poll, August 8, 2012