Now that filing has closed, many races are set and the Missouri Times has arranged a look at the races that you will be tracking election night.
Some late filing surprises included former Sen. Charlie Wheeler filing for governor and Sen. Dan Brown filing for state treasurer. We have broken down the races by party and provided some handicapping based on our network of subscribers from around the state. Cash on hand totals for statewide candidates include all 48-hour reports of contributions over $5,000 as of compiling this tip sheet.
US SENATE: LEAN BLUNT
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt
The incumbent senator starts in the lead and his campaign, officially fended off what could have been the most toxic problem for the senator, a primary. Not so much that he could have been defeated, his roots in the 7th probably inoculate him from anyone defeating him, but a primary could have wounded him in the general.
Now Blunt can capitalize on his status as the leader of the Republican party, and bring to the fore his relationships in St. Louis that typically aid Democratic candidates to put him further ahead. Terrorist attacks and President Obama being on television every night are great boosts to his re-election chances, but the question every Republican on the ballot in 2016 is asking still looms: Trump? If there is a state where he may not affect the down ballot races it may be Missouri. The Blunt family is the most successful family in history of the Missouri Republican Party, and as of now it looks likely they will add two term senator to their legend.
Cash on Hand: $5 million
Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander
Kander is a political stud. He is dynamic on the stump, has a great resume, and can fundraise. We have commented that his real race may be among other Democratic Senate candidates to get national funding. Our bet is that as the Missourian meets more Democratic party power brokers he is in a good position there. He may be doing everything possible to win the race, if it’s winnable.
That leads to the central question out of filing, is it possible to defeat Senator Blunt with President Obama in the White House?
Can Kander’s ability overcome the headwind of President Obama, his lack of labor support in St. Louis, and a financial disadvantage? As of now, it’s unlikely. However, with Trump at the top of the ticket literally no one knows what will happen.
Cash on Hand: $2.1 million
REPUBLICANS: LEAN KINDER
Lt. Governor Peter Kinder
Its been said that every four years the state holds elections and every four years Peter Kinder wins one. That has been true since the 90’s, and leads us to believe that until someone gives a credible reason otherwise he is the front runner in the race. A four way primary plays to his strengths as he has the largest base vote of the four.
However, it’s almost certain that he will have the least amount of money. He can do a great deal to keep his lead, but if one or all of his opponents pile on he likely won’t have the money to effectively respond. However Kinder has the best ear for what the rural voters who make up the base of the republican primary want to hear. This lean is soft, but as of now he is the candidate with the most logical path to the nomination.
Former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway
Hanaway has officially overcome any baggage from 2015 and has started off the stretch run in midseason form leveling some of the sharpest attacks on Greitens over the Goguen scandal. Club for Growth is already up on the radio supporting her, and it’s our view that polls this far out don’t tell much, but we feel she will likely over perform her polling. Keep in mind Axiom Strategies is the firm whose data mining strategies helped U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz win Iowa, and they have had longer to work Missouri.
With four candidates from the eastern side of the state she may have an advantage in Kansas City where Axiom is based and former Rep. Connie Cierpiot and former Sen. Luann Ridgeway will be dedicated to her cause. Also don’t discount the help Congresswomen Ann Wagner and Vicki Hartzler will provide.
That said she is still having to compete for many of the same voters that have voted for Lt. Gov. Kinder three times. Also she have been the beneficiary of massive financial support from Missouri businessman Rex Sinquefield, but that seems to have made it difficult to garner large contributions from other donors.
Cash on Hand: $1.575 million
Consultant: Axiom Strategies
Brunner is a much better candidate in 2016 than in his 2012 run for U.S. Senate, but even then he ran a close second in a three-way primary. Many feel his track could be similar to Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky who won last year after losing as 2012 senate race.
Trump creates question marks for many on this tip sheet, but he may create opportunities for Brunner. Logically, he is in the best position to take advantage of the new voters who voted in the primary last month for Trump.
He has recently taken a pass on criticizing Greitens over the G0guen scandal, but it’s hard to see either of them winning if the other is above 20 percent on election night. While Greitens will be the most interesting candidate to watch for the next couple months, the most interesting man in July will be Brunner. Who his fire is turned toward will be a major determining factor in who wins this race.
Cash on Hand: $3.7 million
Consultant: Barklage & Knodell
You knew that it was unlikely that Greitens could pull off switching parties, winning a four way contested primary, chastising his new party as corrupt, and become governor as his first elective office without some bumps in the road. He didn’t seem to hit many of those bumps, until the last few weeks.
Since then he has been attacked by a group of soldiers over how he uses his service to promote himself, incorrectly inferred that his opponent John Brunner was to blame for a web video questioning his honesty in representing his service, and now his biggest donor (with donations totaling $1 million), California businessman Michael Goguen, had to step down from his post at Sequoia Capital after a lawsuit alleged he kept someone as a sex slave.
Running for office is very difficult, and the first time you run the vetting process is unlike anything else most people have encountered. Even in a good campaign a bad stretch was to be expected. It will be interesting to see how he responds. He started by saying that he is keeping the money which will be a liability going forward as Ohio Governor John Kaisch returned $250,000 in contributions to Goguen already. The key may be working to unite more traditional republicans, there are only so many people you can antagonize at one time, right?
On the other hand, Greitens’ path to the nomination is possible because of what an amazing fundraiser he is. He may be the best fundraiser Missouri’s seen in the unlimited contribution era. However, his contributions are from unusual sources for a Missouri candidate. For example he has reported over $1.5 million in large contributions from 69 contributions since the first of the year. Far less than half of those 69 were from Missouri, and less than 18% of that money came from Missouri.
Cash on Hand: $4.9 million
Consultant: Victory Enterprises
DEMOCRATS: LIKELY KOSTER
Attorney General Chris Koster
Filing closing brings to an end a most unlikely chapter in Missouri politics. Eight years ago when Chris Koster switched parties, it would have been unthinkable that he wouldn’t be challenged by a more significant figure in the democratic party.
While former Sen. Charlie Wheeler is a legitimate opponent most people thought he would have drawn a more significant rival. Moreover 8 years ago, who would have thought that Donald Trump may be at the top of the Republican ticket he was opposing, so who knows.
While it may not be possible for Koster to pull off a 65% to 35% primary landslide he will most certainly win the primary and be set with a fundraising advantage going into the fall. His ace in the hole could be that Trump cancels out Obama and no one has any passion either way about Hillary Clinton.
Koster’s fundraising is an juggernaut with the largest cash on hand total in the state, but unlike Greitens since the first of the year his $1.75 million in large contributions to his campaign to be Governor of Missouri have largely come from Missourians. With nearly 75% of his donors being Missourians and over 60% of the money coming from within the state.
Still his biggest liability will always be President Obama and as long as national Democrats are aggressively pro-choice and pro-gun control they wont do him any favors in Kennett, but on the other hand of the six major candidates for governor he looks most at home on a farm. At the end of the day, filing closing marks an amazing eight-year trek for Koster.
Cash on Hand: $7.5 million
Former State Senator and Kansas City Mayor Charles Wheeler
Charlie has a great resume and even though he is pushing 90, still gets around the state. He is a name that is certain to draw votes in the Kansas City area. Moreover, the same reason why the very moderate Koster is such a challenge for Republicans to take on make Wheeler a landing spot for some protest votes from urban Democrats who do not like their state’s party being led by such a conservative candidate. Several politicos are predicting that Wheeler garnering 40% of the vote wouldn’t be surprising.
Cash on Hand: n/a
REPUBLICANS: LEAN PARSON
Senator Mike Parson
Parson has continued his steady grounded effort as he moved through filing closing. There were several rumors circulating that another candidate would enter the race but filing closed with a two person race. He seems to have the advantage in fundraising, more contacts around the state, and strong institutional support from Missouri groups especially the well organized agriculture community
He has received the support of Sam Fox and John Danforth and seems to have an edge in the St. Louis community. It also stands to reason that Parson will also benefit in the next quarter from many groups and companies who do not contribute during session. He has an advantage in that even if he loses he will still serve in the senate for two years.
While his opponent picked up the support of David Humphreys, Parson has continued voting for PQs in the Senate disappointing some and puzzling others, that not withstanding, he will be the favorite until Randles shows a reason otherwise.
Cash on Hand: $1 million
Consultant: J. Harris Company
Randles has a very compelling story, a network of contacts from her husband’s unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination for governor in 2012, and most importantly she was the beneficiary of the largest political contribution in Missouri history of a million dollars from Rex Sinquefield.
While she had raised extremely little else outside of that contribution, she did pick up $50,000 from David Humphreys. She also has an advantage in many counties with conservative activists and could have the money to attack Parson. She is the underdog until she begins spending on media to see if she can connect her grass roots support into votes.
Cash on Hand: $695k
Consultant: Turning Point Public Affairs
DEMOCRATS: HEAVY FAVORITE CARNAHAN
Former Congressman Russ Carnahan
Missourians like legacy names and in Missouri there are fewer names they are more familiar with than Carnahan. It seemed that the Republicans were likely to hold onto the only statewide post they’ve had success with until the former congressman jumped into the race. He will cruise through the primary unless his old rival Congressman Lacy Clay decides to aggressively support Rep. Pierson. Regardless, he will most certainly win the primary and be slightly favored in the general election.
Cash on Hand: $20k
Rep. Tommie Pierson
There is a logical narrative from Pierson’s campaign as he represents Ferguson in the House, but he is going to have to raise money, and hasn’t yet. Without an influx of money or Congressman Clay and Mayor Francis Slay deciding to get aggressively involved in his race he will be the decided underdog.
Cash on Hand: $9k
REPUBLICANS: LEAN SCHAEFER
Senator Kurt Schaefer
Schaefer’s run of earned media continued as he as been the beneficiary of the efforts to reform the University of Missouri on the heels of his shutting down the abortion clinic in Columbia. Schaefer’s support has been growing in southwest Missouri, but most of the reason that he has to feel good about filing closing is that it’s a two-person race between two people from Columbia.
A better rationale from seeing the race as leaning his way is that in a week last month Hawley picked up the endorsement from two Washington D.C. groups while Schaefer received endorsements from the Missouri Soybean Association and the Missouri State Troopers Association. In a republican primary for Attorney General Missouri groups significantly outweigh D.C. groups.
Cash on Hand: $2 million
Consultant: Barklage & Knodell
University of Missouri Professor Josh Hawley
Hawley is running a strong race, but it seems much more Washington D.C. than Washington, Missouri oriented. He obviously has a very strong fundraising network and his check from Stan Herzog stands out as a surprise, but outside of that his support isn’t very Missouri. Since the first of the year he has raised an impressive $360,000 from 15 large contributions. However, less than 20% of that money was from Missouri donors. He will have to prove he can convert outstate money into instate support.
This race is a great one, not just because of the animosity brewing between the two Republicans, but because they both articulate fundamentally different views of the office. While Schaefer articulates his view as a prosecutor protecting the state, Hawley describes the job as a lawyer arguing for Missouri religious freedoms before the U.S. Supreme Court. This will be the most interesting down ballot race this summer.
Cash on Hand: $1.1 million
DEMOCRATS: LEAN ZIMMERMAN
St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman
Zimmerman’s real advantage is his fundraising ability and his relentless work ethic. Zimmerman is working as hard as anyone on the Democratic side, and has the ability to raise money from outside the state. Zimmerman also has some experience he can tout, but its thin.
His position in St. Louis County provides him an ability to build some name ID, and if he keeps growing his fundraising advantage he will be the heavy favorite by the time democrats cast their ballots in August.
Cash on Hand: $1.1 million
Consultant: Jim Ross
Former Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley
She has the best experience of the field, comes from the Kansas City media market, and as a woman would have an advantage in the Democratic primary. However, while its likely not possible necessary to reach financial parity with Zimmerman most believe that she needs to reach somewhere around 70 cents on the dollar to win.
As of today, there is no evidence that is happening. She is doing everything a campaign needs to do, but if she doesn’t pick up the fundraising slack more democrats will move to Zimmerman as the favorite.
Cash on Hand: $238k
REPUBLICANS: LIKELY SCHMITT
Senator Eric Schmitt
Now that Schmitt has a primary he showed that he took notice raising another nearly $600,000 as filing closed. He has aggressively taken to the Lincoln Day circuit and has racked up most of the top flight county coordinators around the state such as Majority Floor Leader Mike Cierpiot in Jackson County.
Schmitt has a huge cash advantage, a large name ID in the St. Louis market and has had a year and a half head start, he will be favored until Senator Brown’s attacks show a reason otherwise.
It’s been said many times that the Missouri Republican Party is simply incompetent at statewide elections, and the Joplin wing of the party is working overtime to make that true again in 2016. This primary will tell the story if the rest of the party can get their act together and sideline the wing of the party addicted to losing.
Cash on Hand: $2.7 million
Consultant: Axiom Strategies, Barklage & Knodell, Victory Enterprises
Senator Dan Brown
Brown was a surprise filer whose name surfaced after the Humphries faction were rejected by several other candidates they were recruiting. While not their first choice, or second, Brown is a legitimate candidate and was elected to the senate in 2010 before making an unsuccessful bid for congress in 2013 as one of the first candidates eliminated.
He is branding himself as the only “real” Republican in the race, but his campaign has a ways to go to be competitive. He does bring $136,000 from his state senate coffers and $250,000 from the Humphreys group in Joplin, but as of now doesn’t have a campaign website. It seems likely that he will raise some more money after session, but it will strain his singular significant donor to match Schmitt dollar for dollar. However, if he makes it nasty enough it could become competitive. Chances are the uglier the race gets the better for Brown.
Cash on Hand: $386k
DEMOCRATS: LEAN BAKER
Former State Rep. Judy Baker
Baker is a former state representative who has run for office several times. She is a fixture in the Columbia community, and being a woman has an advantage in a Missouri Democratic primary.
However, she will have to step up her fundraising efforts to win the primary and have anything left over for a general election where she will likely be vastly outspent. She is in driver’s seat for now, and with Trump at the top of the Republican ticket the fall could get wildly unpredictable. She is the exact type of candidate who could grind out a primary win and be swept into office if an anti-Trump wave develops.
Cash on Hand: $100k
Former State Department Official Pat Contreras
Contreras is an exciting candidate and from our vantage point may be running the most efficient campaign in the state. He has energy and a knack for using social media to campaign. He is facing some headwinds in this primary, but in a race that will likely get little attention he has every chance to be competitive come the summer. Whether he wins this race or not Contreras’ name will be on the ballot again.
Cash on Hand: $84k
Consultant: 3D Political
SECRETARY OF STATE
REPUBLICANS: TOSS UP
Ashcroft starts the race as the favorite and its very close to a lean Ashcroft ranking. His last name is an enormous advantage in the race, but he had struggled with fundraising. That is until this quarter when he began picking up steam. He may never lead the fundraising chase, but he likely doesn’t have to.
His father jumped into the race in a big way making appearances throughout the Lincoln Day circuit, and Jay made the scene early and often, frequently staying and helping clean up several events. He has always been doing the legwork, but as filing closed seemed to now be hitting the fundraising as well.
Cash on Hand: $464k
Consultant: Victory Enterprises
State Senator Will Kraus
Kraus has the resume and look that is top of the ticket material. He is literally doing everything possible to win this race. The question is whether he can overcome Ashcroft’s name advantage. If it’s possible, Kraus is running the campaign that could.
He will have to maintain the cash advantage to win and seeing that even if he loses, he will serve his final two years in the state senate as a chairman. One wildcard in the race may be that Kraus is carrying the voter ID bill in the Senate that many believe will be PQ’ed and passed this year. It will be an opportunity for him to shine on a big stage.
Cash on Hand: $677k
Consultant: Axiom Strategies
Smith is a former news anchor in St. Louis who has family connections to several Democratic politicos. She has a St. Louis base that extends to the African American community, those involved in the community, and the Democratic party.
Smith will have some name ID from her years hosting the evening news, but as a first time candidate she will have to spend a lot of time getting around the state to see success in November.
Cash on Hand: $88k