Bob Onder completed his comeback into state legislative life with a victory in the hard-fought – and expensive – contest for the 2nd District state Senate seat.
The Lake Saint Louis Republican's win capped off a relatively light slate of legislative races -- as well as some unusually active local contests.
Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis, served a term in the Missouri House from 2006 to 2008. He cut his legislative career short to run for Congress in the now-defunct U.S. 9th Congressional District. He lost in the Republican primary to Blaine Luetkemeyer, who then went on to win in the general election. This year, Onder decided to jump back into the legislative fray by running for the St. Charles County-based seat.
Like the other candidates in the race, Onder stressed his socially conservative views on abortion, gun rights and gay marriage. Unlike his opponents Chuck Gatschenberger or Vicki Schneider, Onder endorsed so-called “right to work,” which no longer would have made paying union dues a condition of employment.
No Democratic candidate filed for the seat, so the winner of the Republican primary takes the seat.
The race was notable also because it became personally expensive for the candidates involved, as all three threw in at least $200,000 of their own money into the contest.
Onder’s win may strengthen the Senate’s conservative wing, which has proven adept at filibustering major legislation. That bloc of lawmakers may continue to block passage of some sort of Medicaid expansion, such as a proposal floated earlier this year by state Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City.
When asked earlier this summer if he’d become part of a filibustering group of lawmakers, Onder said: “It would just depend on the issue.”
“I’ve taken care of Medicaid patients for 25 years. It’s a broken system,” Onder said. “It both spends too much and doesn’t deliver good care to the folks it's supposed to help. So I think we need to look to what some other states have done. Florida has done some really innovative things in Medicaid. And I think we can make the system a lot better.”
In the region’s other competitive state Senate primary, Jay Ashcroft prevailed over Jack Spooner and Robb Hicks in the St. Louis County-based 24th District Senate seat.
With more than 90 percent of the vote reported, Ashcroft – the son of former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft – defeated Spooner by 54-35 margin. Ashcroft will face state Rep. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, in the general election.
The 24th District seat is open after Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, decided against running for re-election. It tilts toward the Democrats, but it could be hotly contested since only a handful of state Senate seats are considered competitive this year.
Schupp has nearly $450,000 in the bank. That’s a larger sum than Ashcroft, who spent a great deal of his war chest on television ads during the primary. He’ll likely be able to reload financially, especially if state senators who aren’t facing any challenges this year contribute to his campaign.
Peters, Thompson, Carpenter prevail
In an intense battle for the north St. Louis-based 76th District House seat, Rep. Joshua Peters, D-St. Louis, soundly defeated Chris Carter, Sr.
A Wells-Goodfellow native, Peters spent several years as an aide to U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay before winning a special election last year to represent the 76th District. The 26-year-old squared off against Carter, Sr., whose mother, brother and son have won election to different city and state offices.
In some ways, the contest became something of a proxy war between allies and antagonists of Clay. Clay personally campaigned for Peters, while some city aldermen and state lawmakers who are less friendly with the congressman -- such as Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City -- stumped for Carter. (For his part, Peters contended the race was about making north St. Louis better and not about Clay's political power.)
The testy race took a even more disturbing turn over the weekend when a flier falsely accusing Peters of child molestation began circulating. Peters won a court order earlier this afternoon barring the flier from being circulated further. The Missouri Times reported that state Rep. Jeremy LaFaver condemned the missive as a "disgusting, illegal, anonymous attack." (Alderman Chris Carter III, Chris Carter Sr.'s son, denied that his family was behind the flier.)
Since no Republican filed for the heavily Democratic seat, Peters will return to Jefferson City in 2015.
In the two other competitive races in the city, incumbent License Collector Mavis Thompson narrowly defeated Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, D-22nd Ward. And former Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter easily bested two other Democratic challengers.
Boyd was one of several city officials jockeying to be license collector after Michael McMillian resigned to become the head of the Urban League. Gov. Jay Nixon instead chose Thompson, an attorney with a nursing degree who previously served as the city’s circuit clerk.
Like other battles for citywide offices, the Boyd-Thompson battle became more about endorsements and political support than the actual job. Boyd secured the endorsements from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and a number of sitting aldermen, while Thompson had support from Nixon, city Treasurer Tishaura Jones and St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed.
Carpenter beat Ed McFowland and Jimmie Matthews to secure the Democratic primary for recorder of deeds. She secured 62 percent of the vote, compared to around 18 percent to McFowland and Matthews.
Carpenter spent roughly 34 years as recorder until earlier this summer, when she resigned after she hired her great-nephew to do office work for several summers. That violated the state’s prohibition on hiring family members, which requires the officeholder to step down.
Carpenter now faces off against current Recorder of Deeds Jennifer Florida, who is running an independent in the general election. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay – a longtime friend and confidant of Carpenter – appointed Florida to take over as recorder of deeds.
Erby, Page, Harder prevail; Nieves fails at recorder of deeds bid
Tuesday's races also proved decisive for three contested St. Louis County Council seats:
- In the 2nd District, former Rep. Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur, easily defeated Bridgeton Councilman Bob Saettele by a 57-43 margin. It marks a comeback for Page, who fell short in bids for lieutenant governor and state Senate. Page will fill out the term for former Councilwoman Kathleen Kelly Burkett, who died of cancer earlier this year.
- Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City, fended off attorney Wesley Bell and perennial candidate Alexander Jones. Erby served as one of St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley's most trusted allies on the council. She recently sponsored minority participation legislation that became the source of heated debate on the council.
- Ballwin Councilman Mark Harder defeated Ellisville Mayor Adam Paul and former Ballwin Mayor Walter Young. Harder will likely replace departing Councilman Greg Quinn, R-Chesterfield, in the heavily Republican district.
The primary also brought an end to several contested races for state House seats:
- Alan Green emerged victorious in a four-way Democratic primary for the 67th District House seat. The seat, which encompasses portions of north St. Louis County, became open after former Rep. Steve Webb resigned amid charges he spent campaign contributions for personal use. Green also won a special election on Tuesday to serve out the rest of Webb’s term, which means he will get to vote in September’s veto session.
- Former University City Mayor Joe Adams bounced back after a 2010 loss for state Senate to win the 86th District House seat. He beat three other Democratic candidates to capture the heavily Democratic seat.
- In the heavily St. Louis County-based 98th District, Shamed Dogan beat Rea Scharnhorst and Carol Villette. Rea Scharnhorst was seeking to succeed her husband, Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, in the Missouri House. The win also marks a comeback of sorts for Dogan, who fell short of winning a House seat in 2008.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, foundered in his bid to become Franklin County’s recorder of deeds.
Nieves decided not to run for another term in the Missouri Senate, opting instead to vie for the largely administrative county office. But Nieves lost 45-31 to Jennifer Metcalf, which provides the Washington Republican with his first political loss.
Rep. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, effectively cleared the field for Nieves’ old seat. He’s not facing anybody in the Republican primary, which is tantamount to election in the heavily GOP district.