This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 18, 2012 - State Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah, had a big fundraising quarter in his bid for lieutenant governor, taking in well over $733,000 during the final months of 2011 -- and outflanking incumbent Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's quarter by a sizable margin.
But Kinder, a fellow Republican, still holds an edge in the bank account.
Some of Lager's fourth-quarter haul stemmed from six-figure donations. For instance, he netted a $250,000 donation from Joplin businessman David Humphreys, another $250,000 from the Herzog Contracting Company in St. Joseph and $100,000 from former Kansas City area congressional candidate Jeanne Patterson.
Lager, who unsuccessfully ran for state treasurer in 2008, entered the Republican primary for lieutenant governor soon after House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, withdrew from the contest.
But after Lager got into the race, Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder announced he would run for re-election instead of challenging Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat.
The scenario had a lot in common with what happened in 2008. Kinder -- who was planning a gubernatorial bid after Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican, abandoned re-election plans -- decided instead to run for re-election. Former state Rep. Jack Jackson, R-Wildwood, had entered the contest with the idea that Kinder would not run for another term.
But unlike Jackson -- who eventually dropped his lieutenant governor bid -- Lager has remained in the 2012 contest. And he's pulled in a fundraising quarter that could make him competitive against the incumbent officeholder.
After taking in $733,271.44 and spending $2,704.31 during the fourth quarter of 2011, Lager has about $801,863.15 on hand. That's according to Lager's report with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
That's substantially better than Kinder's fundraising numbers during the same time period. Kinder raised $118,457.43 during the quarter, including a $10,000 donation from James McDonnell III and a $15,000 donation from House Speaker Steve Tilley's campaign committee.
Kinder ended up spending a total of $364,009.65 during the quarter, including tens of thousands of dollars on polling and consulting. That brings Kinder's cash on hand total, as of Dec. 31, to $1,309,681.51.
"I'm honored to have the support of so many outstanding Missourians who understand what career politicians in Jefferson City do not: State government is broken," Lager said in astatement. "Our campaign is focused on a simple principle that state government cannot work for the people until our elected leaders focus on what is important: job creation, smaller government, fiscal restraint and honest leadership."
One of his biggest donors, Humphreys, told the political website Politico last year that Kinder should resign in the wake of published reports about Kinder's association with a former stripper. Humphreys had previously donated to Kinder's campaigns.
Another announced candidate -- Wentzville attorney Michael Carter -- doesn't have a fundraising committee registered with the Miussouri Ethics Commission, indicating that he has raised and spent little.
Lager, Carter and Kinder may not be the only GOP candidates running for lieutenant governor; state Sen. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville, set up a fundraising committee recently to run for the office.
Ridgeway, who is term-limited out of the Senate, raised $10,991.17 during the last fundraising quarter. She has $40,014.94 on hand after spending $4,497.36 during the quarter.
On the Democratic side, former state Auditor Susan Montee and state conservation commissioner Becky Plattner announced runs for lieutenant governor. Former state Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, is also considering entering the contest.
Jason Rosenbaum, a freelance journalist in St. Louis, covers local and state government and politics.