JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The coffee flowed, sweet rolls abounded and the candidates flooded in.
Tuesday marks the kickoff of candidate filing in Missouri for the August and November elections. And in Missouri’s state capital, it’s a tradition for candidates to pack the secretary of state’s building to try to become the first on the ballot for their particular office.
Before the 8 a.m. official start, lines of candidates were already snaking through the corridors of the three-story building. As part of the once-every-two-year festivities, dozens of legislators trooped en masse from the state Capitol, about two blocks away.
By the time that filing closed at 5 p.m., more than 430 people had filed for statewide or legislative offices, or for various rural judgeships that are elective posts. Candidates must file in person in Jefferson City.
The League of Women Voters and the political parties had tables set up with coffee and sweets.
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft was euphoric. “I think it’s wonderful to have so many people from all over the state, from all the various walks of life, that are willing to get involved in politics,” Ashcroft said, as he mingled with candidates packing the hallways.
"That's the strength of our system," Ashcroft added.
The first-day filers include Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate. He’s challenging Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill, who is expected to file later this week.
Hawley will have at least seven GOP rivals for his party’s nomination, to be determined in the August primary. Four little-known Democrats also filed today.
In the St. Louis area’s 2nd District congressional seat, now held by Republican Ann Wagner, two Democrats – Mark Osmack and Cort VanOstran – filed. The congresswoman had to remain in Washington today for a key vote on her sex-trafficking bill, an aide said. She planned to travel to Jefferson City on Wednesday to file for office.
In St. Louis’ 1st congressional district, two Democrats and one Republican had filed by late morning. Democratic incumbent Lacy Clay is expected to file later.
State Auditor Nicole Galloway filed in the morning. Her two best-known GOP opponents – lawyer David Wasinger and state Rep. Paul Curtman – filed a few hours later.
A Democratic contest was already shaping up for St. Louis’ 4th District state Senate seat. Incumbent Jake Hummel, who won the post two years ago in a special election, will face state Rep. Karla May in August.
As she stood in line just a few feet from Hummel, May promised to be a “friendly rival,” but emphasized she was serious about replacing him.
Hummel focused on the first-day atmosphere: "There seems to be a lot of excitement in the building."
State Rep. Bruce Franks, a Democrat from St. Louis, said he was excited to see some people who he had been encouraging to run for office. He took note of his voter-registration drive, which he said already has resulted in more than 300 new city voters. His goal is 10,000.
Drawing a number is top attraction
Only for the first day, each candidate draws a number from a bowl in Ashcroft’s office to determine their ballot order. Those with the lowest number will be listed first, a sought-after position that some experts believe can provide a boost on crowded ballots.
After the first day, candidates will be listed in the order that they file. Filing will continue until 5 p.m. on March 27.
In St. Louis County, County Executive Steve Stenger, a Democrat, filed for re-election Tuesday at the county Board of Elections office in St. Ann, as did Democratic rival Mark Mantovani. Also filing were Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch and County Assessor Jake Zimmerman.
Ferguson Councilman Wesley Bell has filed to challenge McCulloch in the Democratic primary. McCulloch has been in office since 1991. Said Bell in an interview, “My comprehensive experience...will be beneficial and help me effectuate the changes needed to not only make sure that people are being treated fairly, but to make sure St. Louis County residents are safer.”
All of the St. Louis County Council incumbents seeking re-election have filed, including Republican Mark Harder and Democrats Hazel Erby and Pat Dolan. Republican Tim Fitch, the county's former police chief, has filed to succeed fellow Republican Colleen Wasinger, who is not seeking re-election.
In the city of St. Louis, the first-day filings show that veteran Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter has drawn at least two challengers, both fellow Democrats: state Rep. Michael Butler and Jimmie Matthews.
License Collector Mavis Thompson has at least one primary opponent, Dana S. Kelly-Franks.
So far, Collector of Revenue Gregory F.X. Daly has no opponent.