Steve Stenger

Rebecca Smith, St. Louis Public Radio

The 2014 mid-term election is over, but its impact on local and state politics could be long lasting.

That’s because Republicans  -- who were already in firm control of the Missouri General Assembly – expanded their numbers in the House and Senate in part because they were able to crack the Democrats'  once-sturdy strongholds in Jefferson County, southeast Missouri and northeast Missouri. In St. Louis County, Republicans also came close to electing a county executive for the first time since 1990 when Democrat Buzz Westfall ended 28 years of GOP control over the office.

Steve Stenger celebrates a victory.
Chris McDaniel | St. Louis Public Radio

Democrat Steve Stenger eked out a narrow victory Tuesday for St. Louis County executive, becoming one of the few major Democratic wins – regionally or nationally.

After trailing for much of the vote-counting, Stenger ended up with an edge of 1,768 votes over Republican Rick Stream. That amounted to less than 1 percent of the roughly 294,000 votes cast.

"I want to say 'thank you' to the voters of St. Louis County who have placed their confidence in me to turn their county around, and to move our county forward and upward,'' Stenger said in a brief victory speech.

St. Louis Public Radio aired the first public debate between two candidates for St. Louis County executive, Democrat Steve Stenger, left and Republican Rick Stream (right).
Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s somewhat instinctual for Missouri political reporters to describe every election as decisive, critical or groundbreaking. And to be fair, it’s not an unnatural impulse – since every Show Me State election year for the past couple of decades has featured a competitive statewide, U.S. Senate or presidential contest.

This year, though, state Auditor Tom Schweich likely won’t lose to his Libertarian or Constitution Party opponents, and the Missouri House and Senate will remain firmly in Republican hands. And there's no U.S. Senate contest.

File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander is estimating that slightly fewer than 40 percent of the state’s voters will show up at the polls next Tuesday, a lower turnout than in 2010 — when there was more at stake on the ballot.

Area election officials also are projecting lower turnouts, ranging from roughly 20 percent in the city of St. Louis to 25 percent in St. Charles County, 46 percent in St. Louis County and 47 percent in Jefferson County.

Video Voters Guide To St. Louis County Executive Race

Oct 30, 2014
Steve Stenger, left, and Rick Stream
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio intern

Here's your chance to see the two major-party candidates for St. Louis county executive in action. Before the August primary, we videotaped the candidates answering questions about some of the key issues facing the county. (This was before the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.) Here is what Democrat Steve Stenger and Republican had to say. You can see their answers by clicking on the questions below.

What’s your strongest achievement while in office?

How would you improve the St. Louis County parks system?

Rick Stream, left, and Steve Stenger
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio intern

Just since Oct. 1, the two major candidates for St. Louis County executive have spent more than $1.1 million between them – most of it on TV ads.

On Monday, Republican Rick Stream and Democrat Steve Stenger filed their final campaign-finance reports – known as “eight-day reports” – before the Nov. 4 election.

In their filings, Stenger reported spending $712,032 just in October. That compared to $409,824 for Stream.

The bulk of their spending has been for TV ads, which have been running continually for almost two months.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

With sleek, white furniture and an array of flat screen televisions, Express Scripts’ research lab has all the trappings of modernity and success. But for his part, Express Scripts CEO George Paz saw something else when he broke ground on his company’s headquarters a few years ago.  

When he stepped on the north St. Louis County field that would later become Express Scripts' campus, Paz saw dilapidated houses and sewer runoff. It wasn’t a sure-fire economic development opportunity.

Rick Stream
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio

Rick Stream, the Republican nominee for St. Louis County executive, is promising to use his influence to persuade the General Assembly to change state laws  to make it harder for communities to collect so much money from traffic violations.

Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Actions often speak louder than words.

The region’s two major candidates for St. Louis County executive – Democrat Steve Stenger and Republican Rick Stream – play down any talk that their campaigns target women voters.

Both say they’re seeking support from any and all voters, regardless of gender, age, race or other demographics.

Jefferson County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Dunnegan Waters
Jefferson County website

Jefferson County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Dunnegan Waters says she likely would have been oblivious to the internet uproar over her Facebook comments about the president if she hadn’t set up a Twitter account a few months ago.

Waters claims that she had forgotten about her Facebook post – which appears to ask why the military hasn’t ousted President Barack Obama -- until she was at a radio station for an interview on Oct. 10.

Steve Stenger, Democrat, left, and Rick Stream, Republican, are running for St. Louis County executive.
Photos courtesy of the candidates

Steve Stenger, the Democratic candidate for St. Louis County executive, is entering the final weeks of the contest with more than twice the money in the bank as Republican rival Rick Stream.

In reports filed Wednesday, Stenger reported that he had raised $447,244 since the Aug. 5 primary and had $400,902 in the bank.  That compares to only $173,081 raised by Stream, who reported $155,068 on hand.

Stenger also has outspent Stream: $322,562 compared to Stream’s $246,512.

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis City
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated 5:50 p.m. Wed., Oct. 15)

The region’s most prominent African-American official -- U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay – has announced that he's no longer on the political fence, and now is endorsing fellow Democrat Steve Stenger for St. Louis County executive. 

Clay said on KMOX radio Wednesday morning that fellow African-Americans backing Republican Rick Stream were ignoring their best interests.

“It’s time for us to bring the temperature down and allow for us to make a rational decision,” Clay said.

St. Louis Public Radio aired the first public debate between two candidates for St. Louis County executive, Democrat Steve Stenger, left and Republican Rick Stream (right).
Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County’s two major candidates for county executive – Republican Rick Stream and Democrat Steve Stenger – engaged Tuesday in their most vigorous debate to date, tangling over guns, other social issues, their records and their different visions of what government can and should do for the county’s 1 million residents.

Stream called their contest “the most important race in the state of Missouri’’ on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Rick Stream, left, and Steve Stenger
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio intern

This is where you can find the latest updates from the St. Louis Public Radio debate between St. Louis County executive candidates Steve Stenger, a Democrat, and Rick Stream, a Republican. The debate is being broadcast live on St. Louis On The Air from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday and rebroadcast Tuesday night at 10 p.m.

>> Live updates for mobile users

Rick Stream, left, and Steve Stenger
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio intern

In their first of two debates this week, the two major-party candidates for St. Louis County executive — Republican Rick Stream and Democrat Steve Stenger — each portrayed himself as the true leader that the county needs at a time of job loss and social unrest.

Each also accused the other of being too close to the current county executive, Democrat Charlie Dooley.

State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated noon, Thursday, Oct. 9)

State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal is the star of Republican Rick Stream’s television ad, an unusual example of cross-party dynamics in the race for St. Louis County executive.  

Chappelle-Nadal, a University City Democrat, appears in an ad promoting Stream’s bipartisan credentials. 

African-American elected officials announce that they endorse Rick Stream, a Republican, for St. Louis County Executive. 10/1/14
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

For some in both camps, the decision of a group of African-American Democratic officials to endorse Republican Rick Stream for county executive boils down to one word:

Payback.

Berkeley Mayor Ted Hoskins said as much when he explained at Wednesday’s news conference — which featured about two dozen north St. Louis County officials — that Stream’s conservative views and legislative votes aren’t the issue.

Rick Stream, left, and Steve Stenger
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio intern

With the nationally watched unrest in Ferguson as a backdrop, St. Louis County’s contest for county executive may well live up to its hype as the region’s marquee contest on the Nov. 4 ballot.

And although Election Day is a month away, Republican Rick Stream and Democrat Steve Stenger, both St. Louis natives, already are running attack ads – a sign that their battle may be tighter than the county’s Democratic-leaning demographics might indicate.

Their pitches fit in with their parties’ traditional jabs:

police line ferguson 81814
Ray Jones | UPI

The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership is defending its decision to approve funds for “crisis communications” in response to the unrest in Ferguson.

Bill Greenblatt, UPI

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch was helping Councilman Steve Stenger in his bid for county executive from literally the moment he started running.

McCulloch was the introductory speaker at the Affton Democrat’s campaign kickoff last year. He's contributed close to $100,000 in in-kind contributions to Stenger's campaign. And he's appeared in ads attacking incumbent St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and praising Stenger’s promise to “clean up” St. Louis County.

Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio file photo

There’s no better confirmation that a controversy is affecting a campaign than when the targeted candidate faces the camera and simply talks about the issue at hand.

So it is with Steve Stenger, the Democratic nominee for St. Louis County executive. His first ad addresses what’s arguably his biggest political headache: Ferguson.

Rick Stream
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio

State Rep. Rick Stream, the Republican nominee for St. Louis County executive, has fired off the first TV ad of the general election campaign.

And a chunk of  the 30-second spot is an attack against Democrat Steve Stenger, who currently sits on the County Council.

Rick Stream
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio

State Rep. Rick Stream, the Republican nominee for St. Louis County executive, says that county Prosecutor Bob McCulloch should think seriously about whether he should remain in charge of an investigation into the Ferguson police shooting last month that set off weeks of unrest.

“I’m not calling on him to step aside,” Stream said in an interview. “But I do think, if a quarter of the population in the county has no confidence in your ability to do an impartial investigation, that’s something that should be seriously considered by the prosecutor. That’s his decision.” 

Steve Stenger, Democrat, left, and Rick Stream, Republican, are running for St. Louis County executive.
Photos courtesy of the candidates

St. Louis County executive candidates Steve Stenger and Rick Stream will face off in a public debate Oct. 14 hosted by St. Louis Public Radio in partnership with the University of Missouri–St. Louis. It is the first planned debate ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

Protests and chants came into the St. Louis County Council chambers Tuesday night.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been well over a month since a Ferguson police officer shot and killed Michael Brown. And for the most part, the St. Louis County Council was shielded from the unbridled anger over the 18-year-old’s death.

That reprieve ended on Tuesday.

The council’s chambers were packed with supporters of Brown and his family, with the vast majority of the crowd giving the county’s top executive and legislative officeholders a blazing array of criticism.

Parth Shah, St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated 5:37 p.m. Thurs., Sept. 4)

In political campaigns, the biggest spenders often win. But not always.

That ended up being a major theme in Missouri's Aug. 5 primary for which the final campaign-finance reports -- due Thursday -- showed stark contrasts.

St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger, now the Democratic nominee for county executive, heads into his fall campaign with roughly $285,000 in the bank and an even larger debt.

Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Councilman Steve Stenger says St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley should have taken the county into a state of emergency at beginning of the unrest in Ferguson. 

Stenger, the Democratic nominee for county executive, said that move would have allowed Dooley to temporarily take control of the St. Louis County Police Department – which he said could have avoided a “leadership vacuum” throughout August.

Rick Stream, left, and Steve Stenger
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio intern

The morning after their primary victories, the new nominees for St. Louis County executive – Democrat Steve Stenger and Republican Rick Stream – talked briefly before back-to-back appearances at a local television station.

Their cordial conversation is in line with what each says is a commitment to focus on the issues – not personalities -- over the next 88 days leading up to the Nov. 4 election.

Every week, St. Louis Public Radio's Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum talk about the week’s politics.  This week, we dive into last night's election results.

The Politically Speaking crew broke down the results from Tuesday's primary elections. Among other things, the trio examined:

Steve Stenger celebrates his victory in the Democratic primary for county executive.
Chris McDaniel | St. Louis Public Radio

Even St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger seemed shocked by his huge margin of victory Tuesday over St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley in the Democratic primary.

“It certainly looks absolutely phenomenal,’’ Stenger told reporters, shortly before Dooley officially conceded.

Stenger won with 66 percent of the countywide vote, carrying most of the county’s 28 townships. But his electoral success could have repercussions this fall.

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