The heavyweight fight of Missouri politics. Conventional wisdom was that Chris Koster would start the fall campaign with a half step lead of any Republican after a very divisive primary, and that seems to be where this campaign starts with Koster up 8 percent in our latest poll. He has taken his head start and built on it by receiving the coveted NRA and Farm Bureau endorsements as well as support from most other Missouri groups. Eric Greitens can count on support from the Missouri Chamber.
Early on the attacks have mostly been Koster hitting Greitens on taking a salary of over $700,00 over several years from the charity he works at. While Greitens has hit Koster over being Attorney General while the office was renovated by the legislature in 2013. Most feel that just as in June the real race won’t officially start until Greitens being unloading on Koster on the airwaves, you would assume over the allegations made by the New York Times.
Another question is while Koster is taking ground from Greitens on the right can Greitens begin to take some of the natural Democratic ground on the left? Except for the Humane Society attending some rallies, and being introduced by a multi-time former Democratic candidate in southeast Missouri, there is little evidence of it. It could be that Greitens recent history as a Democrat and attacks on the Republican-led legislature and have left him without enough of a grasp on the Republican Party to allow him to branch out, or he just doesn’t care about them.
This race will tighten, and Greitens is very talented. As Trump’s poll numbers and Greitens’ bank account rise, will he be able to pull off another come from behind win as he did in the primary? It wouldn’t be a great race if we knew in September.
Attorney General Chris Koster – D
- Contributions this period: $2,056,012.15
- Contributions this election: $18,848,680.04
- Cash on hand: $9,482,255.41
Eric Greitens – R
- Contributions this period: $4,601,382.00
- Contributions this election: $13,359,265.75
- Cash on hand: $3,243,424.38
This seems to be the down ballot race that the Democrats feel they have the best opportunity to win. Former U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan has the early cash advantage, but his greatest asset is his last name. He is the son of a former governor and U.S. senator. This is his first statewide run, but Missourians like familiar names.
Sen. Mike Parson is literally everything Carnahan isn’t. Instead of being a lawyer, he is a former Polk County sheriff. He is a state senator while Carnahan served in Congress. Parson fought through a tough primary where Carnahan breezed through August. Most of those distinctions are favorable to Parson who starts the campaign with a stellar resume to rack up margins in rural Missourah.
With the distinctions well defined, the questions will be whether Parson can be competitive in the money race, and how well will Trump and Koster do? Can Trump create a wave that sweeps the down ballot into office? Can Carnahan win if Koster loses? Will the controversy in the 78th reduce turnout in St. Louis City? Will Parson’s fundraising suffer because many of his supporters desperately want to see him in the senate for two more years? Parson can win this race, but he needs a good year for Missouri Republicans.
Former U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan – D
- Contributions this period: $254,258.16
- Contributions this election: $751,331.04
- Cash on hand: $508,801.19
Sen. Mike Parson – R
- Contributions this period: $289,366.00
- Contributions this election: $1,744,703.76
- Cash on hand: $72,334.01
This race starts out as a very interesting matchup. Both were considered underdogs at one point or another in their primaries, and both are likely to have to rely on sources outside the state for significant fundraising.
Josh Hawley burst on the scene and has created a devoted following among Missouri conservatives and Washington donors. He likely starts the race as the frontrunner and you have to assume that his primary contributors knew they would have to write another check for the general election. Hawley is an exciting candidate and many in the Missouri political world are eagerly awaiting to see how he pivots to the general election.
Teresa Hensley will be making a similar argument that Sen. Kurt Schaefer made in the primary — that she has prosecutorial experience where her opponent does not. It was an argument that didn’t resonate well in the primary, but historically it has in the general election. A strong female candidate with prosecutorial experience should make her an appealing candidate for national groups to support. Hensley won her primary despite being significantly outspent, but it’s unlikely she will be so fortunate in the general election. She won’t need dollar for dollar parity, but she will need to keep it close.
Teresa Hensley – D
- Contributions this period: $619,756.16
- Contributions this election: $1,168,342.94
- Cash on hand: $457,792.72
Josh Hawley – R
- Contributions this period: $1,362,653.87
- Contributions this election: $5,035,450.55
- Cash on hand: $1,152,678.76
Secretary of State
This may be the most lopsided race in the beginning. While Robin Smith starts out with some name ID in the St. Louis media market from her time as a news anchor, Jay Ashcroft starts out with name ID from all across the state from his father’s time as the most successful Republican politician in state history.
Ashcroft will have to show that he can refill his coffers from the primary, but if he does, look for him to be the favorite heading into October.
Robin Smith – D
- Contributions this period: $129,040.00
- Contributions this election: $540,092.87
- Cash on hand: $314,090.13
Jay Ashcroft – R
- Contributions this period: $61,706.00
- Contributions this election: $888,334.72
- Cash on hand: $71,025.03
Former Rep. Judy Baker is a good candidate, but may be in a race that is a bad matchup. Our recent polling shows Sen. Eric Schmitt up 11 percent and, more importantly, he is tied with her in the St. Louis media market. He currently has a 10 to 1 financial advantage and a Democrat needs to win that St. Louis media market by 10-15%. It will be challenging to raise enough money to buy the needed airtime to build that margin in the state’s most expensive media market.
However, many times throughout state history national tides have been the deciding factor in Missouri elections. Baker is a qualified candidate who is running a solid campaign and can capitalize on a good Democratic year and close the margin.
Former Rep. Judy Baker – D
- Contributions this period: $398,423.16
- Contributions this election: $133,991.81
- Cash on hand: $258,331.35
Sen. Eric Schmitt -R
- Contributions this period: $63,430.00
- Contributions this election: $2,832,750.40
- Cash on hand: $2,558,302.28