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Several Missouri Members of Congress Attract Challengers On First Day Of Filings

Provided by Dooley campaign

(Updated 5 p.m. Wed., Feb. 26)

At least three of Missouri's eight members of Congress will face primary challenges this summer, based on Tuesday's first official day of candidate filing for this year's August and November elections.

And so will at least one of the Missouri Senate's more controversial members: Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington.   State Rep. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, has filed to challenge Nieves in the primary.  So far, neither man is discussing the matter.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, has attracted three Democratic rivals.  U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio faces the mirror image, with three Republican challengers.

But the most unusual situation may confront Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, whose district includes part of the St. Louis area.  Two fellow Republicans have filed against him the primary: John Morris of St. Peters and Leonard Steinman of Jefferson City.  Steinman's wife, Velma Steinman, has filed for the post as well -- as a Democrat.

In St. Louis County, County Executive Charlie Dooley and his fellow Democrat and rival, Councilman Steve Stenger, were among the state's biggest political names kicking off filing. Both filed Tuesday morning at the county's Election Board office in Maplewood, as did County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch (who has endorsed Stenger for county executive).

On Wednesday, Ellisville Councilman Matt Pirrello filed to run as a county executive as a Republican. Green Park Alderman Tony Pousosa has also filed for the post as a Republican, setting up a primary between the two local officials.

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, was the lead-off filer early Tuesday in Jefferson City, where candidates for statewide, congressional and legislative posts are required to trek. State Auditor Tom Schweich, a Republican whose office will be the first on this fall’s ticket, filed mid-morning.

By 5 p.m., 286 people – over half of them, Republicans -- had filed for office at the Missouri secretary of state’s office, according to the secretary's website. Most of the filers in Jefferson City were for posts in the state House and Senate, which highlights the GOP disparity among the first-day candidates: 168 Republicans filed for the legislative seats, compared to only 81 Democrats.

Local election authorities don't expect to post their lists until late Tuesday or Wednesday.

In St. Charles County, elections director Rich Chrismer was among the filers -- and he confirmed that he has at least three opponents.

They include former St. Charles Mayor Patti York, who -- like Chrismer -- filed as a Republican. York was ousted as mayor in 2011 by fellow Republican Sally Faith.

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann filed for re-election Tuesday afternoon. So far, Ehlmann -- a Republican -- has no filed opponent from either party.

Three people have filed for St. Charles County's open spot as sheriff.

In St. Louis County, three have filed so far for the 24th District state Senate seat now held by John Lamping, R-Frontenac, who unofficially has been signaling that he's unlikely to seek re-election.

Democratic state Rep.  Jill Schupp filed for the Senate seat, as did two Republicans -- Jack Spooner and Robb Hicks.

Lamping already has agreed to serve as Schweich's state campaign chairman.

For most, lottery determines ballot placement

St. Louis County Democratic elections director Rita Days was declining to say, until the office posts the details on its website, whether Stenger or Dooley will be listed first on the ballot.

For the past 20 years, most first-day filers in Missouri draw numbers to determine who will be listed first for that particular office in the August primary.

The lottery was set up in the early 1990s by the General Assembly to end the old tradition of candidates or their surrogates standing in line for weeks or months, clogging the halls of the secretary of state's office, or the Capitol, and occasionally igniting disputes -- all to file first and be the first name on the ballot.

The jockeying for the top ballot position stems from the belief of some politicians and analysts that voters unfamiliar with the candidates are more likely to vote for the first person listed.

After the first day, candidates are listed in the order that they filed.

The notable exception is in St. Louis, where the pre-filing line still reigns. The first-day filers included newly appointed License Collector Mavis Thompson -- who had a surrogate holding her place for weeks -- and Democratic challenger and current Alderman Jeffrey Boyd.

Longtime Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter also has at least one primary challenger: former alderman Jimmie Matthews, who will be listed first because he filed first. Collector of Revenue Gregory F.X. Daly also filed for re-election, and so far has no challengers.

The region also could see several heated legislative contests this August. For example:

  • In the 76th House district, Democrats Josh Peters and Chris Carter both filed.
  • In the 77th,  Bill Haas -- who has served three terms on the city school board -- is competing in the Democratic primary against Kimberly Gardner.

Candidate filing in Missouri will continue through March 25.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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