Blunt, Kander win nominations in Missouri U.S. Senate races

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

ST. LOUIS -- The expected became official Tuesday when Republican incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt and Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander easily won their parties' nomination in the Senate race.

Blunt was among nine members of Missouri's congressional delegation seeking re-election. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is not up for re-election this year.

Both Blunt and Kander defeated three little-known challengers. Both men have been essentially campaigning against each other for months.

Blunt and Kander both have raised millions of dollars for what is expected to be a bruising general election campaign. Democrats see Missouri as vulnerable, and Republicans are taking the challenge seriously.

Former president George W. Bush is among those who have helped raise money for Blunt.

Attorney general

University of Missouri law professor Josh Hawley defeated state Sen. Kurt Schaefer for the Republican nomination for attorney general, a post being vacated by two-term office holder Chris Koster, a Democrat who is running for governor.

On the Democratic side, Cass County prosecutor Teresa Hensley topped St. Louis County assessor Jake Zimmerman in one of the closest statewide elections Tuesday.

The stakes are high: Many attorneys general have gone on to become governor, including the two-term incumbent Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat.

Secretary of state

A familiar name will be on the November ballot in the race for Missouri secretary of state.

Jay Ashcroft, son of former Missouri governor, U.S. senator and U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft, defeated state Sen. Will Kraus and Kansas City educator Roi Chinn for the GOP nomination Tuesday.

On the Democratic side, Robin Smith, a former TV news anchor in St. Louis and political novice, outdistanced two Kansas City residents, Bill Clinton Young and MD Rabbi Alam.

Ashcroft hopes to be just the third Republican elected to the position of secretary of state since 1945. The other two were both named Blunt: Roy Blunt, now a U.S. senator, served from 1985 to 1993; his son Matt was elected for one term in 2000 before winning election as governor.

Treasurer

Former state representative Judy Baker won the Democratic nomination for state treasurer, the office that serves as custodian for state funds and is responsible for holding unclaimed property.

Baker, of Columbia, served two terms in the Missouri House before losing to Blaine Luetkemeyer in a 2008 race for Congress. She then worked in President Barack Obama's administration as a regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services.

She defeated Pat Contreras of Kansas City, a third-generation Mexican-American who served as a diplomat under Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Republican state Sen. Eric Schmitt and Libertarian Sean O'Toole were unopposed. Democrat incumbent Clint Zweifel is barred by state term limits from running.

Lieutenant governor

Another candidate with a long family history in Missouri politics is a step closer to becoming lieutenant governor.

Russ Carnahan of St. Louis defeated two Democratic opponents, Winston Apple and state Rep. Tommy Pierson. On the Republican side, state Sen. Mike Parson, who is also a former sheriff, beat two challengers. The November race will also feature Libertarian Steven Hedrick.

Carnahan served four terms in the House before redistricting in 2012 forced him to run against Clay.

His father, Mel Carnahan, was a two-term governor of Missouri who won election to the U.S. Senate in November 2000 despite dying in a plane crash weeks before the election, along with another son and a political aide. Mel Carnahan's wife, Jean Carnahan was appointed to fill her husband's Senate seat.

Also, Russ Carnahan's sister, Robin Carnahan, was twice elected secretary of state, in 2004 and 2008, and lost to Republican Roy Blunt in a 2010 U.S. Senate bid.

The House

All eight of Missouri's incumbents in the U.S. House are moving on to the November election following victories on Tuesday.

The most spirited challenge was in the 1st District. William Lacy Clay defeated state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal and St. Louis school board member Bill Haas to win the Democratic primary.

Clay was first elected in 2000, when his father retired after 32 years in office.

He has been challenged before. In 2012, due to redistricting, Clay was forced to run against another incumbent Democrat, Russ Carnahan, and defeated him soundly.

Other House incumbents winning nominations Tuesday included one Democrat -- Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City in the 5th District -- and six Republicans: Ann Wagner in the 2nd District (suburban St. Louis); Luetkemeyer in the 3rd District (St. Louis' western suburbs to mid-Missouri); Vicky Hartzler in the 4th District (western Missouri); Sam Graves in the 6th District (northern tier of the state); Billy Long in the 7th District, (southwest Missouri); and Jason Smith in the 8th District (south-central and southeastern Missouri).

Ferguson ballot issue

For the second time in four months, voters in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson are being asked to raise taxes to help the city rebound from the financial hit it took following the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

A measure to raise the city's utility tax by 2 percent is on Tuesday's ballot. City officials say the increase would generate an estimated $700,000 annually.

In April, Ferguson voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase and narrowly defeated a property tax increase.

Brown, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by white officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. A grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice found no evidence of wrongdoing by the officer, who resigned in November 2014.

But the shooting led to months of chaos that included protests and rioting in Ferguson, causing sales tax revenue to drop as businesses were impacted. Legal fees rose dramatically, court reforms eliminated revenue, and in March, the city agreed to a settlement with the Justice Department expected to cost at least $2.3 million.

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