Eric Greitens has emerged victorious from a bruising, four-way contest to be the Republican nominee for governor. He will face Attorney General Chris Koster, 51, who coasted to win the Democratic primary.
Greitens, 42, is a former Navy SEAL and author who lives in St. Louis County. In his victory speech, he framed his campaign as a contrast to his opponent. "Chris Koster and other career politicians have constricted people's sense of what is possible. And what is so fantastic and what you see here tonight is all these people around Missouri who are standing up and want better for themselves and want better for their families. And that's what we offer them."
Greitens co-founded The Mission Continues, a nonprofit group that works to link veterans with service opportunities. As he repeatedly has pointed out, this is his first bid for public office and he portrays himself as a political outsider.
His large campaign contributions were criticized for coming from investment executives and venture capitalists from California, New York and elsewhere. Koster, too, has large support from outside the state, including from unions. The national attention and the fund-raising abilities of the candidates indicate that this could be the most expensive statewide race in Missouri history.
Greitens seemed to address that when he charged that "Koster is the best friend of the special interests. But the problem for Chris is those are the only friends he has."
In her concession speech, former U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said political outsiders determined primary’s outcome. “We got overwhelmed by a tidal wave that was called the outsider movement. And it was a tidal wave that swept into the presidential nomination and it swept here into the gubernatorial nomination,” she said.
Hanaway said she would support Greitens.
As the result seemed clear, businessman John Brunner encouraged his followers to keep faith with his ideals. "I have finished the race and I have kept the faith," he said.
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder thanked those who had supported him throughout this race and many before. This was Kinder’s seventh run for public office. He told his supporters he was proud of how he conducted his campaign. "The campaign that did not engage in slinging mud — that did observe that others were slinging mud … which the kids depicted in our ad.” Kinder said he wished Greitens well.
Election results can be found on the Missouri secretary of state website.
The primary races for the U.S. Senate were not competitive; incumbent Republican Roy Blunt and Jason Kander, a Democrat who is now secretary of state, both won handily.
The Democratic primary for lieutenant governor went to former U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan. His name recognition and political experience paid off. The St. Louis resident’s father — the late Mel Carnahan — was lieutenant governor before being elected governor in 1992. Russ Carnahan said he wants to use the lieutenant governorship to bridge rural and urban divides — and make changes to how the Missouri legislature operates.
On the Republican side, Mike Parson prevailed over Kansas City attorney Bev Randles. Parson is a former Polk County sheriff who has served in the Missouri House and Missouri Senate. He said he’s well suited for the office, especially because part of its limited duties includes advocating for veterans and the elderly.
In the attorney general contest, the cliffhanger was on the Democratic side, where former Cass County prosecutor Teresa Hensley defeated County Assessor Jake Zimmerman.
Hensley went negative early on television, which may indicate that the mud-slinging will continue in attorney general’s race through the general election. She cites her knowledge in the courtroom as a reason to support her: “You’re the top managing partner of a pretty big law firm. And it is, at the same time, an office that handles tremendous prosecutorial cases, like murder cases and child sex abuse cases — all of which I’ve taken great priority and training to make sure we’re handling those cases appropriately.”
Shortly after 11 p.m., Zimmerman told the two dozen people remaining at his watch party at Starrs in Richmond Heights that he was not giving the speech he had hoped to give.
He urged those who backed his candidacy to work to beat Republican candidate Josh Hawley in the fall.
“I congratulated her on a good race and told her how excited I am to make sure that she defeats Josh Hawley,” he said, “because we need to keep this office in the hands of people who care about common sense, who care about fairness and who care about our values, not about dangerous partisan crusades.”
After thanking everyone who had worked on his campaign, Zimmerman singled out young people who believed in his cause and believed that their work could make a difference.
And he spoke of his family, including his wife, Megan. “When we leave here tonight,” he said, “we are going home to a house that has a beautiful 2-year-old toddler in it. And he’s going to wake up tomorrow morning, and he doesn’t care about Josh Hawley, and he doesn’t care about Teresa Hensley. But he will have a smile on his face to see his mama and his daddy. He’s the reason that we all do this.”
The Republican race was won by Josh Hawley, a law professor on leave from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a former clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Hawley survived attack ads saying that he had defended a terrorist and a terrorist organization. The former charge was denied by Hawley and the organization that filed the suit in question.
Hawley says his expertise is in constitutional law, which is related to what the state attorney general actually does. During the campaign, he said, “What the attorney general’s office does, it defends cases on appeal and then it defends the laws of Missouri and the officials of Missouri, when necessary, and the constitution of Missouri. And I think I have a background perfectly suited to do that.”
Hawley is proposing to set up new units in the office that would focus on government corruption — particularly in Jefferson City — and on addressing federal overreach.
In the treasurer race, the Republican nominee is state Sen. Eric Schmitt of Glendale, who was unopposed. He was the primary sponsor of SB5 and other efforts to change the municipal court system and other ways smaller communities operate.
Democrat Judy Baker bested Pat Contreras. She has taken on well-funded Republicans before but lost for Congress in 2008 and for lieutenant governor in 2012. Baker first won election to the Missouri House in 2004. She has a master’s degree in health administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and focused on health-care matters as a legislator. She also worked in the health-care industry, including at University of Missouri Health Care, and was a regional director for the Department of Health and Human Services.
She says the treasurer’s office would give her a chance to speak for Missourians who are economically struggling. She also says she would work to promote the state’s college savings program, financial literacy and consumer protections.
For secretary of state, Democrat Robin Smith easily won her first primary. The retired television newscaster has never run for political office before.
She will face a well-known political name: Jay Ashcroft, an attorney and engineer who lives in St. Louis County, is the son of former U.S. Attorney General and Missouri Gov. John Ashcroft. In his previous foray into electoral politics, Jay Ashcroft lost a close race for a state Senate seat. Ashcroft said he would launch a petition to require a government-issued photo ID to vote, but said he pulled back when the legislature acted, placing a related measure on the November ballot.
In the area races for Congress, the 1st District had the most action. The incumbent Lacy Clay was first elected to the U.S. House in 2000. He polled 63 percent of the vote against challenges from state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal and school board member Bill Haas. He will face Republican Steven Bailey and Libertarian Robb Cunningham in November.
In the 2nd District, Republican incumbent Ann Wagner will face Democrat Bill Otto and Libertarian Jimm Higgins.
In the 3rd District, Republican incumbent Blaine Luekemeyer will face Democrat Kevin Miller, Libertarian Dan Hogan and Constitution Party candidate Doanita Simmons.
In the 15th District in West St. Louis County, Republican Andrew Koenig will face Democrat Steve Eagleton
In the 23rd Senate District, in St. Charles County, Republican Bill Eigel will take on Democrat Richard Orr and Liberarian Bill Slantz
In St. Louis districts, Democrat Steve Roberts won the 77th; Democrat incumbent Penny Hubbard survived a close challenge from Bruce Franks in the 78th and will face Republican Erik Shelquist; Democrat Peter Merideth won the 80th and Fred Wessels won the 81st.
In the 96th District in southwest St. Louis County, David J. Gregory won. In west St. Louis County, Republican Derek Grier prevailed in the 100th, and in the 101st, Republican Bruce deGroot won a four-person race and will face Democrat Dennis Lavellee in November.