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Government, Politics & Issues

GOP dissidents, and a last-minute manuever, mark end of Missouri's candidate filing

Candidates for offices throughout the state line up to file for the August primary ballot.
Mallory Daily | St. Louis Public Radio intern

As Missouri’s candidate filing ended at 5 p.m. Tuesday, one fact is clear:

Lots of people seem unhappy with the state’s members of Congress.

All eight incumbents in the U.S. House have challengers from within their own parties, heading into the Aug. 2 primaries. So does U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and his chief Democratic rival, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander.

The crowd of congressional contenders, most of them little known, are primarily Republicans.  In southwest Missouri, for example, U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield, has seven GOP challengers.

In the St. Louis area, U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, will now face Kirkwood resident Greg Sears in the Republican primary.  And former state Rep. Cynthia Davis of St. Charles County filed Tuesday in a quest to unseat U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth.

In interviews, Sears and Davis voiced the same complaint: Both contend that Wagner and Luetkemeyer aren’t conservative enough, especially when it comes to spending.

“He’s been more jawbone than backbone," said Davis, referring to Luetkemeyer.  She is particularly upset over continued federal money directed to Planned Parenthood for family-planning purposes and the continued funding for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Davis ran unsuccessfully in 2012 as the Constitution Party’s candidate for lieutenant governor, and earlier served a brief stint as chairman of the St. Charles County Republicans.

Meanwhile, Sears contended that Wagner “says she wants to rein in government spending, but it’s not being reined in at all.”

Sears, 45, said he works in the biotech industry. He previously ran for state representative in New Hampshire, before returning to Missouri in 2014.

Wagner issued a statement right after filing ended. “I believe that Missourians deserve elected leaders who stand up for their values and fight for them, not for Washington," she said. "During my time in Congress, we have successfully secured multi-year funding for important national security jobs in our community, we have stopped the president’s executive amnesty and other unconstitutional overreach and we have defended our children against dangerous sex traffickers online. And yet, there is still so much work to be done.”

Filing will remain open in 1st District

In the 1st District, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-University City,  faces two Democratic challengers: elected St. Louis School Board member Bill Haas and state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, also of University City. 

Chappelle-Nadal_official.jpg
Credit Provided by Chappelle-Nadal's office
State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City

Chappelle-Nadal caused a brief political stir late Tuesday when she withdrew as a congressional candidate shortly before 4 p.m. She then refiled a few minutes later, apparently to make sure she was listed last on the ballot. 

Some political analysts have contended that candidates listed as first or last on the ballot can have a slight advantage.  As it stands, Clay – who has held the post for almost 16 years – is listed second, right after Haas.

But Chappelle-Nadal’s maneuver does kick in a state law that requires that filing stay open for a particular office if a candidate withdraws on the final day. Filing for the 1st District will now be allowed until 5 p.m. Friday.

All told, as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, 466 people have filed for statewide, congressional or legislative offices in Missouri.

The bulk of those candidates filed on the first day, back in February.

Slim pickings?

While nearly 50 candidates filed for office in Jefferson City on Tuesday, some of the most notable developments may have been instances were people didn't sign up to run for office. 

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Credit Mallory Daily I St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, won a competitive race four years ago. This year, he'll face no Democratic opposition for re-election.

For instance: The Missouri Republican Party noted that Democrats didn't field a candidate in 66 House seats -- which means GOP candidates only need to win 16 races to retain control of the House.

Some of the districts are traditionally Democratic: Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Frankfort, represents Monroe and Pike Counties in the Missouri House -- two places which Democrats dominated for decades. This year, he will face no opposition.

And in Lincoln County, state Rep. Randy Pietzman, R-Troy, also will win another term with no Democratic opposition. His seat was held by Democrats for years until state Rep. Ed Schieffer, D-Troy, had to depart from the House due to term limits. 

That trend spread to some extent in the Missouri Senate: Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, won't face a Democratic challenger, even though he narrowly won election to his seat four years ago. Only two or three Senate seats up for election this year are considered competitive, which means Republicans will almost certainly retain control of the Senate.

Still, not every GOPer will be unchallenged this fall. In the 15th Senatorial District, Democrats Mark Boyko and Stephen Eagleton signed up to run the GOP-leaning district. The winner of that primary face either state Rep. Andrew Koenig, R-Winchester, or former state Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood. (Eagleton, the nephew of former U.S. Sen. Tom Eagleton, unsuccessfully ran for the 15th District seat in 2008.)

Tuesday also proved to be a good day for some Democrats in heavily-Democratic jurisdictions:

  • State Sen. Gina Walsh, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors, will not face a Democratic opponent for her re-election bid. Walsh, a key supporter of organized labor in the Missouri Senate,  represents a chunk of north St. Louis County.
  • St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones also didn't draw a Democratic challenger, all but assuring another four years in office. By contrast, Jones defeated three well-funded Democratic opponents in 2012.
  • St. Louis Alderman Donna Baringer, D-16th Ward, will face token Republican opposition in the southwest St. Louis-based 82nd District. That all but assures that Baringer will be elected to the Missouri House -- and subsequently spark a special election in the 16th Ward next March.

But former state Rep. Patricia Yaeger won't get a free pass in her bid for the 6th District County Council seat. The Democrat will square off against Republican Ernest Trakas in the south St. Louis County-based district. The incumbent -- St. Louis County Councilman Kevin O'Leary, D-Oakville -- is not running for re-election.

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