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Onder abandons lieutenant governor primary challenge over COVID-19 pandemic


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — All eyes were on the Secretary of State’s Office Tuesday, the final day of filing, to see if a car bearing a gold SD 2 license plate would arrive. But by 5 p.m., Sen. Bob Onder’s name wasn’t listed as a primary contender to Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe

The state senator from St. Charles County had been considering a challenge to Kehoe, who has served in the position since June 2018. After all, Onder is term-limited, has nearly $208,000 in his war chest, and would have the backing of the trial attorneys. But Onder decided to forgo the race as the state grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, he said Thursday. 

“I spoke to the Lieutenant Governor’s campaign team about two weeks ago and confirmed that I was indeed looking at the race,” Onder, a member of the Senate Conservative Caucus, said in a statement. “However, after much consultation, reflection, and prayer, my family and I came to the decision that our state and our party would not be well-served by a hard-fought primary campaign.” 

“Rather, we believe that at this time of crisis our state should come together to combat the serious threat posed by the current pandemic,” he said. “I will continue, nevertheless, to fight for the conservative principles that have always been the guiding light for my public service. At this challenging time, may God bless your families, and God bless the great state of Missouri.” 

Kehoe faces no real primary or general election challenger. Arnie C. AC Dienoff, Aaron T. Wisdom, and Mike Carter have all filed to run in the GOP primary, and none have filing reports available. On the Democratic side, Gregory A. Upchurch and Alissia Canady are on the ballot; neither have campaign finance reports available either. 

Kehoe has more than $369,000 cash on hand. The American Dream PAC, which supports him, boasts more than $580,000 in its war chest. 

More than 1,500 Missourians have tested positive for coronavirus since testing began in March. At least 18 people have died from COVID-19.