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Commentary: The Primary Results

I’ll not save the best for last. In the runup to the marquee U.S. Senate primary in Missouri last week, the political world was holding its breath in anticipation of a Trump endorsement. Trump had been cagey recently because he’d gotten burned on some premature endorsements of losers, so he waited until the night before the election – so late that it was impossible for big-money interests to weigh in – to endorse – wait for it – “Eric.”

I have a thick “classic Trump” file, and this immediately goes to the top. There were two “Erics”, of course: Eric Schmitt, who was leading in most polls, and Eric Greitens, who was a close second or third in most polls. Trump hates to lose and figured out a way to practically guarantee an endorsement win in Missouri.

Schmitt won going away, winning more votes than Greitens and the local Congresswoman, Vicky Hartzler, combined. He will face Trudy Busch Valentine, who beat Lucas Kunce for the Democratic nomination. Even with Valentine’s money it will be an uphill climb for her. If this is a close race, it will mean that Republicans are having a much tougher election nationally than they are hoping for.

My big takeaway is how much clout Missouri has lost in D.C.: A respected two-term senator, Roy Blunt, is retiring, and two relatively senior congressmen, Hartzler and Billy Long from Springfield, gave up their seats only to lose the Senate primary.

Their seats will not change parties, however. Both are deep red districts, and conservative Republicans were nominated. Barring an unexpected wave, all eight Missouri seats are safe for their party: Six Republican and two Democratic.

Locally, there were three particularly interesting races. The new 47th state legislative district, now entirely in Boone County, now has a Democratic lean, so the primary was consequential. Adrian Plank, in his third try, beat newcomer Chemine Schwach by fifty votes, and may flip this seat.

Kayla Jackson-Williams narrowly beat Angela Peterson for the Democratic nomination for Boone County District Ten judge and will take office after the November election because she does not have a Republican opponent. Both candidates were African-Americans, and Jackson-Williams will be the first black person to be elected judge in Boone County history.

Actually I am saving the best for last. Ordinarily I do not comment on city elections – why is a subject for another commentary – but the extraordinary result of Columbia’s Third Ward race is irresistible. Last April long-time incumbent Karl Skala and his newcomer challenger Roy Lovelady got exactly the same number of votes, confirmed by a recount. They had a runoff last week and Lovelady narrowly beat Skala.

So last April the last person in line caused the tie – we’ll never know, of course, if the vote was for Skala or Lovelady. All we can say for sure is that whenever someone tells you they’re not going to vote because “my vote doesn’t count,” Columbia residents – Roy Lovelady and Karl Skala especially -- can say: “You are so wrong.”

Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to everyone who stepped up and said: “The process may be expensive and almost certainly nasty, but I want to serve my fellow citizens.”

Dr. Terry Smith is a Political Science Professor at Columbia College and a regular commentator on KBIA's Talking Politics