Challengers for Missouri governor, Congress and St. Louis County executive raised more money in their campaign committees in the first quarter of 2020 than the people they’re seeking to oust from office.
In at least two of those contests, the challengers still have a long way to go to close a gap when it comes to money in the bank — a key metric when examining campaign finance numbers.
In the race for governor, Democratic state Auditor Nicole Galloway’s campaign committee raised a little more than $640,000 from January to the end of March, according to recently filed campaign finance records. That’s nearly double the roughly $336,000 Gov. Mike Parson raised during that same time period.
But that result only tells part of the story, since Missouri’s campaign finance system allows for allies of candidates to set up political action committees that can take donations of unlimited size. The PAC supporting Parson, Uniting Missouri, raised $787,350, compared to the $230,550 garnered by the PAC backing Galloway, Keep Government Accountable.
When combining campaign committees and PACs, Parson outraised Galloway by about $250,000. The two committees backing Parson have $5.2 million of cash on hand, compared to the nearly $2 million in the bank for the two comparable Galloway committees.
While Missouri has become much more Republican in recent election cycles, this year’s governor’s race is expected to draw national attention and money because there aren’t that many other competitive contests. The Republican Governors Association sent $500,000 to Uniting Missouri after the first-quarter fundraising reporting deadline.
Wagner-Schupp contest heats up
In Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, state Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, outraised U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner by about $75,000.
Schupp took in roughly $655,000 during the January-to-March time frame, compared to more than $580,000 for Wagner. The Ballwin Republican still has much more money in her campaign account — over $2.8 million, compared to Schupp’s nearly $945,000.
The Wagner-Schupp contest could be one of the more competitive Missouri congressional races in the past decade. National campaign committees, like the Democratic and Republican congressional ones, will likely pour money and organizational resources into the contest — which in the past has been critical for challengers like Schupp to have a chance.
While the GOP-controlled Legislature drew the 2nd Congressional District to lean Republican in 2011, some parts of St. Louis County that Wagner represents have become more competitive in recent years. Wagner defeated Democrat Cort VanOstran by about 4 percentage points in 2018.
St. Louis County executive candidates stocking up
In St. Louis County, committees supporting Mark Mantovani edged out comparable groups backing St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman.
A campaign committee and political action committee backing Mantovani raised more than $758,000 during the January-to-March fundraising quarter. That’s compared to roughly $191,000 for two similar committees supporting Page and almost $110,000 for committees backing Zimmerman.
Mantovani’s campaign committee raised more than $253,000, which includes $50,000 from Mantovani himself. That’s more than the roughly $104,000 Zimmerman raised for his committee and nearly $79,000 for Page’s committee.
A PAC supporting Mantovani, Change STL, took in more than $500,000 during the quarter. That included $250,000 from the Carpenters’ Union PAC and another $250,000 from a PAC linked to the St. Louis Home Builders Association.
The Page PAC received about $112,000 from a host of corporations, unions and individuals. And the Zimmerman-aligned PAC, Heartland Action, took in two $2,500 donations from an individual and company.
When combining candidate committees and PACs, Zimmerman has more money in the bank — roughly $737,000 — than Mantovani or Page. The two pro-Mantovani committees have roughly $720,000 on hand, while two comparable Page committees have $536,000 in the bank.
Mantovani got into the race in mid-February, jumping back into the political fray after narrowly losing the Democratic primary for county executive to then-incumbent Steve Stenger in 2018.
Two Republicans running for county executive, Paul Berry III and Ed Golterman, do not have active campaign committees. A fourth Democratic candidate, Jamie Tolliver, also doesn’t have an active committee.
Pandemic rocks election cycle
The first quarter ended as Missouri’s campaign season was effectively frozen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And that’s forced candidates to adapt, especially since large fundraising events and campaign rallies aren’t possible with social distancing restrictions.
Parson’s campaign messaging shifted to relaying information about his governmental actions related to the coronavirus crisis. Galloway has held campaign events using the popular videoconferencing software Zoom.
The pandemic also has had an impact for congressional and county executive aspirants. Wagner self-quarantined at her Ballwin home for 14 days after she came into contact with a colleague who contracted COVID-19. Schupp’s state Senate duties have been curtailed significantly, with the exception of a vote on a massive supplemental budget legislation.
Page has spent part of March and all of April dealing with the coronavirus pandemic in St. Louis County. And Zimmerman self-isolated after teachers at his son’s pre-school came down with COVID-19. Mantovani said he only solicited funds from Feb. 19 to early March because of the pandemic.
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