GOP replacement wins legislative race in Farmington

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- While most political campaigns are marathons, Republican Kevin Engler's run for 106th District state representative was a sprint.

Despite launching his candidacy less than seven weeks ago, Engler, the mayor of Farmington, defeated Democrat Dennis W. Smith, a Farmington city councilman, and independent Elbert Bohnert of Perryville to keep the seat in Republican hands on Tuesday.

With all precincts reporting, Engler captured 57 percent of the vote compared to 37 percent for Smith and 6 percent for Bohnert, according to unofficial results. Engler won in all three counties that are partially included in the district -- Perry, Ste. Genevieve and St. Francois.

Engler was elated at winning a seat that hadn't intended to seek. The local Republican committee chose Engler as the GOP nominee for the seat after incumbent state Rep. Tom Burcham of Farmington dropped out of the race in September.

"We were very fortunate and blessed to have so much support," Engler said. "We had a great team down in Perry County that contributed time, energy and support."

Despite joining the race late, Engler had outspent Smith by a margin of nearly 2-to-1 as of Oct. 24, thanks in large part to Republican Party support.

Praise for opponent

Engler praised Smith for running an honorable race.

"Dennis Smith never went negative," Engler said. "He ran a great campaign, a clean campaign."

Smith couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday night.

In a continuation of the trend away from the Democratic Party in the Bootheel, Republican Otto Bean of Holcomb beat Democrat Brent Robinson of Kennett in the 163rd District. With all precincts reporting, Bean claimed 51 percent of the vote for a 196-vote margin of victory. Bean handily won both Butler and Stoddard counties, but narrowly lost Dunklin County, which has the bulk of the district's voters.

Bean will become the first Republican since at least Reconstruction -- and perhaps in history -- to represent Dunklin County in the House. The seat, last held by Democrat Phillip Britt of Kennett, had been the main Southeast Missouri race targeted by Republicans in their quest go take control of the House.

Black's third term

One the two area incumbents to face majority party challengers, state Rep. Lanie Black, R-Charleston, appeared to have secured a third term from the 161st District. With 29 of 45 precincts reporting, Black had 66 percent of the vote and a comfortable 2,366-vote lead over Democratic challenger Wayne Petitt of Scott City. The district includes Mississippi County plus portions of Scott and New Madrid counties.

The other incumbent, state Rep. Peter Myers, R-Sikeston, held a 194-vote lead over Democrat Donnie Kiefer of Chaffee with just two of 32 precincts reporting in the 160th District, which includes western Scott County and a small portion of southern Cape Girardeau County. Myers, who is seeking a third term, was heavily favored.

State Rep. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, claimed a second term, claiming 89 percent of the vote, with seven of 19 precincts reporting, to defeat Libertarian C. Darby Ulery.

Area incumbents unopposed on Tuesday who will also be returning to the House include Democrat Denny Merideth of Caruthersville and Republicans Rob Jetton of Marble Hill and Rob Mayer of Dexter.

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