Kinder, other Mo. incumbents win; secretary of state race close

Wednesday, November 7, 2012
In this Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 file photograph, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder visits with people attending the annual Missouri State Fair Governor's Ham Breakfast in Sedalia, Mo. One way or another, history will be made as voters decide whether to give Missouri Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder a rare third term or reject the incumbent for the first time in more than a century and pick Democratic former Auditor Susan Montee. (AP Photo/Kelley McCall, File)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri voters handed Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder a rare third term Tuesday while retaining several other incumbents in statewide offices.

Kinder held off Democratic challenger Susan Montee, a former state auditor, while Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster won a second term by defeating Republican Ed Martin, who was chief of staff to former Gov. Matt Blunt. Another Democrat, Treasurer Clint Zweifel, won a second term by defeating Republican state House member Cole McNary.

The secretary of state's race between Republican Shane Schoeller, of Willard, and Democrat Jason Kander, of Kansas City, was too close to call early Wednesday with nearly all precincts reporting. The two state House colleagues were seeking to succeed Democrat Robin Carnahan, who had decided not to seek a third term.

Under Missouri law, if there is a less than 1 percentage point margin in a race, the losing candidate can request a recount after the results have been officially certified by the secretary of state's office.

Campaigns for the four statewide offices largely were overshadowed this fall by higher-profile races in Missouri, but the outcome in the contests could have a significant effect on how state government operates for the next four years.

Kinder is the second person to win three elections as Missouri lieutenant governor, duplicating the feat of Democrat Frank Harris, who first took office in 1933.

Kinder's victory capped a turbulent period in his political career that saw him skip an expected run for governor and survive a robust challenge in August's Republican primary.

Last year, Kinder used personal funds to reimburse the state more than $54,000 for lodging expenses following reports by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he spent hundreds of nights at St. Louis hotels. Kinder has said he travels frequently for his lieutenant governor job and that he repaid the expenses to eliminate any doubts. He also acknowledged frequenting an Illinois strip club in the 1990s after another St. Louis newspaper reported on the visits.

Both issues were raised against Kinder during his re-election campaign. But he emphasized his opposition to the federal health care law, which he challenged in federal court as a private citizen. He also noted that his under-budget operation of the lieutenant governor's office, and touted his work on behalf of the elderly and military families.

Koster's victory Tuesday preserved Democrats' two-decade hold on the attorney general's office. His predecessor in the office was four-term attorney general Jay Nixon, who on Tuesday won a second term as governor.

Koster, a former state senator and county prosecutor, highlighted public safety issues. He fended off barbs from Martin that he was President Barack Obama's "lawyer" and had not done enough to fight the federal health care law. Koster left the Republican Party to become a Democrat in 2007.

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