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Government, Politics & Issues
On the Trail, an occasional column by St. Louis Public Radio political reporter Jason Rosenbaum, takes an analytical look at politics and policy across Missouri.

8 Takeaways From The End Of Missouri’s Candidate Filing Period

Voting stations at Central Baptist Church in St. Louis on March 10, 2020.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
The deadline to file for Missouri's 2020 primary was on Tuesday afternoon.

Missouri’s 2020 campaign season is effectively on ice because of the focus on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

But that doesn’t mean that candidates haven’t been signing up to appear on the August primary ballot.

By the time the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline hit, 490 people filed to run for federal, state, county, city and judicial posts. That included 31 stragglers who decided to make the trek to Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s office on Tuesday.

By comparison, 501 candidates filed with the secretary of state’s office in 2016 and 638 candidates filed in 2018. There weren’t that many surprises overall. 

No Greitens comeback

Gov. Eric Greitens walks away from reporters after making a statement outside the Circuit Court building. May 14, 2018
Credit File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Despite rampant speculation that he was planning a comeback, former Gov. Eric Greitens did not file for his old job.

The potential of Eric Greitens’ comeback has lingered in Missouri politics since the GOP governor resigned nearly two years ago. That prospect moved from remote to somewhat possible when Greitens’ political apparatus came back to life after the Missouri Ethics Commission fined his campaign earlier this year but didn’t take action against Greitens personally.

But Greitens ultimately did not file to get his old job back, despite coy non-answers whenever he was asked about his political future.

It’s not out of the question that the resumption of Greitens’ social media activity may be laying the groundwork for something down the line, including a U.S. Senate bid in 2022 or 2024.

Parson won’t be unopposed in the primary, though. He’ll square off against state Rep. Jim Neely, former state Auditor nominee Saundra McDowell and Seneca resident Raleigh Ritter.

If he wins his primary, Parson probably will face Democratic Missouri state Auditor Nicole Galloway in November. Galloway has four primary opponents, but none is well known.

Appointed statewide officials get a pass

Sen. Bob Onder holds an end of session press conference with other members of the Senate Conservative Caucus on May 17, 2019.
Credit File photo I Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, did not file for lieutenant governor. Onder previously ran for Congress and might have been a formidable challenger to Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe.

One of the threads of the 2020 election season is whether the three statewide officials that Parson appointed to office can win terms in their own right. 

After the dust settled from the filing period, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick’s ability to achieve that got a little easier. None of the three officials will face particularly arduous primaries.

That wasn’t a sure thing before Tuesday for Kehoe. Rumors abounded that state Sen. Bob Onder would run for lieutenant governor. That might have been a strong challenge for Kehoe, especially since Onder has the ability to self-fund and has experience running in competitive primaries over the past decade and a half. But Onder, a Lake St. Louis Republican, declined to file.

Schmitt will face the winner of the Democratic primary between Elad Gross and Rich Finneran. Kehoe will square off against either Greg Upchurch or Alissia Canady. And Fitzpatrick will face former Democratic state Rep. Vicki Englund. The only statewide official who was elected in 2016, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, will run against Democrat Yinka Faleti.

Senate showdowns fizzle

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the filing period was how some matchups for state Senate districts didn’t materialize. 

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For instance: Democrats failed to field a candidate in the 3rd Senate District, which takes in portions of Jefferson, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Iron and Reynolds counties. In 2012, that district leaned toward the Democrats — as evidenced by how Gary Romine only won narrowly. Now, thanks to a rural shift toward Republicans, that district is bright red.

But Republicans had some fumbles, too. Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo will run unopposed, despite only winning election in 2016 by 2 percentage points. And Republicans failed to get a well-known challenger to Sen. Lauren Arthur, a Kansas City Democrat who made waves in 2018 by turning the Clay County-based 17th District blue.

At least two of the marquee Senate matchups will be in the St. Louis area. Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, is being challenged by state Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, in the St. Louis County-based 15th District. And state Rep. Doug Beck, D-Affton, will face the winner of a GOP primary between David Lenihan and Michael Kohlberg.

Primary deciders

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed
Credit File photo I Kae Petrin I St. Louis Public Radio
Six Democrats signed up to run to succeed Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, in Missouri's 5th Senate District.

Most of the 17 Senate seats up for grabs this cycle are either strongly Republican or Democratic. That means whoever wins the Aug. 4 primary will be likely heading to Jefferson City in 2021.

The marquee race in St. Louis is for the 5th District, which takes in the eastern portion of the city. Six Democrats filed in the race to succeed Sen. Jamilah Nasheed: state Rep. Steve Roberts, D-St. Louis; Michelle Sherod; St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green; former St. Louis School Board member Bill Haas; Jeremiah Church, and McFarlane Duncan.

And in north St. Louis County, three candidates, Tommie Pierson, Angela Mosley and Al Green, will square off for the 13th Senate District seat. The result will be historic no matter who wins in August, since it means the district will have a black Democratic nominee for the first time.

At least one incumbent will face competition: Sen. Bill Eigel will face off against fellow Republicans Dan O’Connell and Eric Wulff in the race for the St. Charles County-based 23rd Senate District seat. The winner will take on Democrat Richard Orr in November.

State House rematches

Mary Elizabeth Coleman was one of the 46 women elected to Missouri's General Assembly Tuesday night. She was part of the record number of women running across Missouri this year.
Credit File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
State Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, will be unopposed after running in one of the most high-profile House races of 2018.

Some familiar names ended up signing up for St. Louis County-based Missouri House seats.

In the south St. Louis County-based 94th District, GOP state Rep. Jim Murphy is once again facing Democratic candidate Jean Pretto. And Democrat Erica Hoffman is challenging state Rep. David Gregory, R-Sunset Hills, for the second straight cycle. 

And assuming she can get past Vince Moreland Jr. in the Republican primary, Lee Ann Pitman is seeking a rematch against state Rep. Trish Gunby, D-St. Louis County. Gunby captured the 99th District House seat last year, turning a historically Republican area blue in the process.

But at least one marquee 2018 race won’t be replicated: Democrats declined to field any candidate against state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold. Coleman unseated Democratic state Rep. Mike Revis in one of the more closely watched House contests in the state.

Party of four

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page speaks to guest at an event to kick off his 2020 re-election campaign on Nov. 21, 2019, in Bridgeton.
Credit File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page will face three other Democrats in the Aug. 4 primary for county executive.

Tuesday was also the deadline to sign up to run in the special election for St. Louis County executive. Four candidates are running in the Democratic primary: County Executive Sam Page, County Assessor Jake Zimmerman, businessman Mark Mantovani and Jamie Tolliver.

One of the wrinkles of this contest is that Zimmerman and Mantovani have both run for countywide offices before. Page, who was appointed county executive after Steve Stenger’s resignation, has not. But Page did take part in high-profile campaigns for lieutenant governor and state Senate.

On the Republican side, Paul Berry III and Ed Golterman are running for county executive.

Three county council members will face competition. Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway, D-Chesterfield, is running against Creve Coeur Mayor Barry Glantz in the Democratic primary for the 2nd District seat. Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray, D-Black Jack, will face Hazelwood School Board member Mark Behlmann and Florissant resident Shalonda Webb in the 4th District race. And Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-south St. Louis County, will square off against state Rep. Bob Burns, D-St. Louis County, Venki Palamand or Alex Lange in November.

City skirmishes

Kim Gardner being sworn in as St. Louis Circuit Attorney
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner will face Mary Pat Carl in her bid for a second term.

The last day of filing didn’t bring any changes to the marquee races for two St. Louis-based offices.

The contests for circuit attorney and treasurer will feature familiar matchups. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner will face Mary Pat Carl. Carl came in second behind Gardner in a four-way race in 2016 to be the city’s top prosecutor.

And St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones will run for a third term against Alderman Jeffrey Boyd. This rematch has taken longer to materialize, as Jones and Boyd ran in a four-way race for treasurer in 2012. 

Since St. Louis is overwhelmingly Democratic, whoever wins in August will likely capture four-year terms for the posts. 

Congressional contests

Republican U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner and Democratic state Sen. Jill Schupp were the only candidates from their respective parties to sign up in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District. That race is expected to be one of the more competitive congressional contests in the country in November.

Rep. Lacy Clay will face Cori Bush and Katherine Bruckner in the 1st Congressional District race. Clay defeated Bush in 2018.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

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