Jefferson City, Mo. — Attorney General Eric Schmitt rolled to a smashing victory in the U.S. Senate race with 45% of the vote. Congresswoman Hartzler came in second with 22%. In a change of pace, it was the woman beating Eric Greitens, instead of the other way around, he came in a distant third with a weak 18%.
In short, Schmitt dominated every part of the state, save for the areas surrounding Congresswoman Hartzler’s congressional district.
The Greitens campaign was like his supporters, loud, angry, and in the end a pathetic failure.
The congressional primaries were are follows:
CD1: Congresswoman Cori Bush was re-elected with 70% of the vote. She was aided by her work helping flooding victims the last week of the race. Her presence on television every night working on constituent services was probably the best thing to shore up any of her weaknesses. State Sen. Steve Roberts, D-St. Louis City, ran a good race and has a great career in the State Senate to look forward to.
CD2: Congresswoman Wagner sailed to victory with nearly 70% of the vote. She easily carried all four counties, including the new counties Warren and Franklin. She will face State Rep. Trish Gunby D-Ballwin, in her new and more Republican district.
CD4: Mark Alford rolled to victory with 35% of a large field. He carried Cass and Jackson Counties big time and that margin held up. The future is still bright for everyone in this field. Sen. Rick Brattin, R-Cass County, still has six years left in the Senate. Kalena Bruce seems like a tremendous candidate to be appointed as the new State Treasurer. Taylor Burks probably ran the best race, but he was kneecapped during redistricting with his native Boone County getting split.
CD7: The senior Senator from Greene County is now the Congressman from Greene County. Soon-to-be former state Sen. Eric Burlison did very well in a competitive race, scoring 35% of the vote. Former Sen. Wasson came in second and political newcomer Alex Bryant really stole the show with his impressive 18% showing.
Incumbent Congressmen Graves, Smith, Luetkemeyer, and Cleaver were all easily renominated, as was expected.
The state Senate moved to the right last night as there were some upsets and a strong showing from the growing number of Eigel Republicans.
– The banner upset was Senator Bill White being defeated by Jill Carter in SD32. This is a huge upset. No one can remember the last time an incumbent state Senator lost renomination, and this will be a seismic shift in the state Senate. Now you can assume that every Republican will be targeted with a primary.
– Another comeback win was Rep. Travis Fitzwater coming from behind to beat Wentzville Judge Mike Carter in SD 10. Carter got an important endorsement from St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann and had lots of momentum. Fitzwater dominated in Callaway County and held his own in Lincoln County to run up his total. He unleashed a barrage of negative attacks on Carter, who didn’t respond with attacks of his own. Former Rep. Bryan Spencer was the recipient of the votes Carter lost due to the attacks and Fitzwater pulled off a three-point, come-from-behind win in probably the best campaign strategy of the cycle.
– Rep. Rusty Black rolled to a forty-point win in SD12.
– Rep. Nick Schroer defeated Speaker Pro Tem Rep. John Wiemann in SD 2 in one of the most heated races of the cycle, winning by 15%
– In SD 6 Senator Bernskoetter fought off a spirited campaign by Scott Reidel. Reidel racked up a big margin in his home of Camden County, but Senator Bernskoetter still won by double digits.
– In SD 8 Senator Cierpiot fought off both of his challengers for a twenty-point win.
– In the 16th Rep. Pollock took her home county, the biggest in the district with a 1200 vote margin. But the incumbent Sen. Justin Brown made it up in the rest of the district, especially Pulaski County, to win. Proving she missed her calling as a juggler, Hannah Sutton with Axiom poured herself into this race and the close margin proves she wasn’t wasting her time.
– In SD 20 Rep. Curtis Trent ran hard, maybe the hardest of anyone in the entire cycle, and ran up a margin that Gelner couldn’t overcome. He will be an instant star in the Senate.
– In SD 22 it wasn’t a surprise that Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman won, but I would have to say that her ten-point margin of victory was a surprise. Rep. Dan Shaul and former Rep. Jeff Roorda polled about the same, and it’s pretty clear that Rep. Shane Roden was hitting his doors. He probably pulled his 17% from Roorda more than anyone else, helping to add to that 10% margin of victory.
– In SD 26 Ben Brown endured a ton of negative attacks late in the race to hold on for a twelve-point win. He won it on the doors and benefitted from his opponents targeting similar voters and splitting up their tallies.
– In SD 28 incumbent Sen. Crawford was harassed all summer, but she still won by a huge margin when the ballots were counted.
– In SD 30 incumbent Sen. Lincoln Hough was easily reelected by 13% after having attacks thrown at him all summer — they didn’t connect.
Now the Eigel Republicans have grown to the point where it’s probably easier to calculate them by leadership votes rather than formal members of a caucus. With only one race in the state that has any real chance of moving, that being SD 24, there isn’t much left to be decided.
Assuming SD 24 stays Democratic then the current state Senate would look like this:
Rowden Republicans 14 – Eigel Republicans – 9 Democrats – 10
Obviously, that equals 33 because I think Senator-elect Trent could justify going either way.
The shift in the Senate might give a compromise candidate for Floor Leader a leg up.
The reality is that over the last four years the majority of Republican senators have taken daily attacks from a minority of Republican senators. They have taken the shots and attempted to pretend that they were actually one caucus. After four years no one feels sorry for them for just taking the pummeling and not standing up for themselves.
Now, with the trial attorneys and gambling interests providing a consistent source of funding, they are probably one more cycle from being in the minority in their own “caucus.”
There were a few winners on the night, and a few folks who had a bit tougher evenings.
Trial lawyers: They have solved the puzzle of how to deal with Republican supermajorities, fund ’em. If you fund the more right-wing candidates, they need less money to get elected and have a harder time fundraising so they appreciate the support more. Imagine trying to get a tort reform bill past the “conservatives” in the Senate this session.
Axiom: 7-1 in state senate races, 2-0 in congressional races, and the biggest Missouri statewide victory in Jeff Roe’s career with the U.S. Senate win.
Former Senator Jim Lembke: He had a vision and took a bare-knuckle approach to seeing it through and it’s paying off. Just a couple more wins and he is there.
Sophia Shore: The campaign manager for Jill Carter now has a signature win under her belt with a huge upset in SD 32.
David Barklage: The anti-Greitens PAC may have been the best work he has ever done. Make no mistake, without that PAC Eric Greitens would have been the junior Senator from the Great State of Missouri.
Rough night for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. In hindsight, that was a lot of money spent in JeffCo and they could have clearly used it in other places.
Big night for the Missouri Firearms Coalition. Big wins with Coleman, and Brown, they played a key role in attacking Greitens on the 2nd amendment in Schmitt’s win.
Big night for Scott Fitzpatrick. He ran a textbook incumbent campaign for an office he wasn’t exactly the incumbent in, and it worked perfectly.
Rough night for the Senate’s traditions. You will never convince anyone that the conservative caucus didn’t help recruit and direct funding toward the challengers in the state Senate races.
Whether they did break that longstanding tradition of senators not opposing the reelection of other senators is up for you to decide, but you will never convince anyone on the other side of it. Now every senator up in ‘24 has to be prepared they are primaried. The “thank you sir may I have another” approach just hasn’t worked for the majority of the majority.
Scott Faughn is the publisher of The Missouri Times, owner of the Clayton Times in Clayton; SEMO Times in Poplar Bluff; and host of the only statewide political television show, This Week in Missouri Politics.