- Eric Greitens
Obviously the winner of the primary of a lifetime was the big winner of the night. His ad campaigns were outstanding. You can typically figure an ad that the Post-Dispatch hates will go over with Republicans. He literally was all over the state, and had no qualms about calling his own newly-adopted party corrupt crooks. It all pulled together for a big primary win. You can question his conservative bonafides or his campaign message but you cannot question his ability to get buzz. His win makes for an amazing fall. Indeed these times in Missouri make for interesting Missouri Times.
- Teresa Hensley
She was the underdog from the start but tracked down her opponent Jake Zimmerman in the final weeks and took home an improbable come-from-behind victory. She will have a clear contrast for the fall with Hawley, as someone with experience in the courtroom, and likely starts the general election in a better position than she did the fall campaign. It will be fun.
- The Carpenter’s Union
They have a reputation as the most politically savvy union, and they proved it again in this primary season. While no one has a perfect record, they were the earliest Hensley supporters, and while others in labor were sitting out or opposing Rep. John Rizzo, they were his biggest supporters. They had a great night, and if labor survives the general election it could largely depend on their willingness to follow the Carpenters’ lead.
- Josh Hawley
He is someone who literally came from nowhere to win a huge victory, but also completely changed the image of the office in doing so. Hawley was a skilled campaigner while being fortunate to raise millions from Washington interests who were determined to see him succeed. You have to assume that if those interests were willing to put up big money in the primary they knew they would have to reload for the fall. It may take tweaking the message in the general, but it seems that he is a skilled enough politician to adjust.
Supporters had a big night winning with Bill Eigel and Rep. Andrew Koenig in the Senate and a slew of pro-right-to-work house members, including Mary Hill, Nick Schroer, and Dan Stacy likely flipping another 3 seats in the right-to-work column if they can win in November.
- Bill Eigel and Andrew Koenig
Speaking of the likely new senators, they were both underdogs on filing day, but were able to master the new art of Senate primaries of running to the extreme right and finding a way to score a big check from the super donors. They will have their work cut out for them replacing two giants of – not only the Senate, but also the St. Louis metro in Sen. Eric Schmitt and former Sen. Tom Dempsey. But it took a lot of skill to get to the Senate, so there is no reason they can’t set themselves apart once they get there.
- Eric Schmitt
Speaking of Schmitt, he had the easiest night with no primary. Also, with conservatives not thrilled with Trump or Greitens, he will have the opportunity to be the reason fiscal conservatives can get excited about the Republican Party in the fall. You would have to assume that Schmitt was Greitens’ first call this morning.
- Mike Parson and Jay Ashcroft
The two men went through tough primaries where they had to deplete their war chests, but came out with large victories. Parson literally stared down the state’s two biggest donors and came out on top, only to now have to face the greatest family legacy of the Democratic Party in Carnahan. Ashcroft won a larger victory in which he literally hustled to every corner of the state and will start the general election as the favorite. It’s even possible that he can maybe put the race away with early fundraising.
- James Harris
He led the Parson campaign through the tough primary and was the person who introduced many in Missouri politics to Josh Hawley. He had a very successful primary night.
- Missouri Democratic Party
In a state so red that Hillary Clinton isn’t likely to show up, Roy Temple and Crystal Brinkley at the MDP have the frontrunner for governor and lieutenant governor and the best general election candidate they could have hoped for in the AG race, as well as having a Senate candidate that seems in contention. The numbers show that they should have been obliterated statewide, but are in a spot to continue statewide success.
- JJ Rizzo
The senator-to-be had a surprising primary come at him, but he dispatched of it and is a very likely frontrunner for the Senate seat. His endorsement by Governor Nixon, successful fundraising and backing of Victor Callahan helped him survive a campaign where he faced several attacks. However, after his opponent’s hits on him about the voting issues from past elections, he likely now has them behind him for good.
- Victory Enterprises
Greitens, Ashcroft, Schmitt, Eigel, and Koenig all have two things in common: they all had big wins last night and they are all clients of Victory Enterprises. Big night for Victory and their clients, all of whom have tremendous chances to win in the fall as well.
- Former legislators running for county office
Reps. Lincoln Hough and Dave Hinson were elected as county commissioners and perhaps the biggest win was Rep. Kim Gardner who was elected St. Louis City Circuit Attorney. Maybe not everyone views legislators as corrupt insiders.
- Senator Bob Onder
Many have scratched their head about his deep involvement in St. Charles County politics but with wins for Rep. Justin Hill, Nick Schroer, and Eigel, he looks to have added to his allies in the legislature.
- Sarah Steelman
The case for Eric Greitens being a conservative was always going to be a tough sell, and without her, likely an impossible one. Her conservative credentials are impeccable, and her endorsement kept many from attacking him and for those who did attack him, their respect for her kept them from firing with all their might. There was a crew of influencers including Jeff Layman, John Lamping, and, of course, her husband David Steelman that were keys to his success.
- The General Assembly
Three sitting members Reps. Nick King, Sheila Solon, and Bonaye Mims lost their primary bids, but more importantly the biggest winners of the night in Greitens and Hawley have referred to state government they lead as corrupt and a swamp that needs drained… and won. The path to statewide office may no longer include serving in the body where you actually learn about state government. In a way it’s the revenge of the Tea Party when you attack all government all the time then at some point you’re the government. It’s like attacking political insiders while running for office. Come next January… you’re the political insider.
- Missouri Republican donors
The message from the party’s two big winners were that donors from Missouri aren’t necessary. With 70-80% of winning candidates fundraising coming from outside the state and voters not caring about it, maybe Missouri Republicans should start funding campaigns in Arkansas or Iowa.
- Missouri Right to Life
Greitens refused to even fill out their survey, they openly opposed him and he won anyway. The real question now is if they will swallow their pride or stay out of the gubernatorial race. If they throw in behind him now, they will have to forfeit a lot of credibility to do it.
Just a bad night all around. The one contested Senate primary where a pro-labor candidate won turned into a mess, and their biggest opportunity was muffed in part because of an incorrect article about Rep. Anne Zerr endorsing Koster. Just not a good night, but all can be changed with a Koster win in the fall.
- Anyone wanting campaign finance reform
In case anyone was wondering, NO ONE CARES ABOUT CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM. Literally no one. A check from a secret source for $1.9 million dollars of dark money was taken and the candidate won. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying that the voters have proven time and time again that NO ONE CARES.
- Conservative Steve Kraske Republicans
It’s a rare Republican that can win over the lead Kansas City columnist, but it seems that the biggest winners of the night were ones that he has a fondness for. Maybe the most interesting trend of the night.
- When the Republican gubernatorial primary winner openly opposes a public policy and then wins big, it is likely bad news.
Those with awkward Wednesdays
- Todd Richardson, Mike Cierpiot, Ron Richard, and Mike Kehoe
Wow, big decisions for these four. Do you throw your arms around the gubernatorial nominee, swallow your pride and dignity and pretty much agree that you are corrupt like a Chris Christie has with Donald Trump, or do you keep your distance and see if Greitens lessens his attacks on you before offering support similar to what John McCain has? Either way, none of the four can be thrilled with the situation.
- Chris Koster
A Democratic committee attacked his now-opponent, and it failed. It was too little, too late. However, now he has a very interesting decision. He is a centrist running as a Democrat in a race where he has a claim to being the most conservative candidate in the field. His speech Tuesday night may have foreshadowed which way he planned to go when he spoke in a nearly partisan way about things that are highly unlikely to play well in outstate Missouri. If Koster tracks left or inward to the Democratic Party, it’s hard to see the math where he wins.
- John Hancock
You lead a party very similar to what Reince Priebus does at the national level. His statewide candidates constantly attack its legislative majorities. Hancock is a pro, but he will need to get everyone on the same page.
- The Senate
Republicans elected two new senators that many expect will be more like House members, making the days of the old Senate likely farther in the distance. It’s possible that Koenig and Eigel choose to stand apart as senators, but the early line is that they will help produce a mini-house environment.
- The NRA
Well it may all come down to the NRA in the governor’s race. Koster is one of the last Democrats seeking a major office with a perfect record from the NRA. Will they simply go the route of partisanship over a proven voting record, or do they stick with those who have voted with them 100% of the time. If they don’t endorse Koster, why would a Rep. Ben Harris believe them when they say they will stick with their friends regardless of partisanship?
Scott Faughn is the publisher of The Missouri Times, owner of the Clayton Times in Clayton, Mo; SEMO Times in Poplar Bluff, Mo.; and host of the only statewide political television show, This Week in Missouri Politics.