Final tally for most expensive Missouri primary contest for governor: $27.1 million

Sep 1, 2016

Eric Greitens, the victor of Missouri’s four-way Republican battle for governor, spent just over $10 million to win his party’s nomination.

The final campaign-finance reports for the Aug. 2 primary, due Thursday, show the four spent a combined total of $27.1 million — a record in Missouri for a statewide primary contest. The final spending almost mirrored the candidates’ election finish.

Runnerup John Brunner, a St. Louis businessman who self-funded most of his campaign, spent $8.2 million. Former state House Speaker Catherine Hanaway spent $6.2 million, most of it from one donor, financier Rex Sinquefield. She came in last in the balloting.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who barely edged out Hanaway to come in third,  spent the least: $2.7 million.

Greitens, an author and former Navy SEAL, now faces the Democratic nominee, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. Greitens reported $3.2 million still in the bank, as of Aug. 27.

Koster had no serious primary opponents, but still reported spending close to $8 million during the primary. He still has $9.4 million in the bank.

Add Koster's spending tally to the GOP spending, and it comes to $35.1 million. That's far more than the previous record-holder for governor — $14 million in the two parties' combative 1992 primaries for governor, which also featured five high-profile candidates (2 Democrats, 3 Republicans). When inflation is taken into account, that 1992 primary spending would amount to almost $24.4 million in 2016 dollars.

In the other major Aug. 2 primaries, the final reports show:

  • The victorious Republican nominee for attorney general, law professor Josh Hawley, was significantly outspent by his losing rival, state Sen. Kurt Schaefer.  Schaefer spent about $5 million, compared to Hawley’s $3.9 million. Hawley has amassed $1.15 million already for his fall contest.
  • The Democratic nominee for attorney general, former prosecutor Teresa Hensley, was outspent more than two to one by the loser, St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman. She spent $679,000, compared to Zimmerman’s $1.5 million.  Hensley reported $457,792 remaining in the bank.
  • In the contest for secretary of state, Republican victor Jay Ashcroft had spent $820,381 and had $71,025 in the bank. In the low-key Democratic race, victor Robin Smith spent $193,471 and had $314,090 in the bank.