A look at Missouri’s statewide races for August primary

Missouri River, and Capitol Building during sunset in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Missouri River, and Capitol Building during sunset in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Missouri’s primary is on August 6. Missouri Times Publisher Scott Faughn breaks down where the candidates stand as the spring and summer campaign season begins to heat up.

‘24 Statewide Races 

Governor: Republican Primary: TOSS UP –  Democrat Primary: Toss UP
General: LIKELY REPUBLICAN 

Republicans
Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe
Lot of things are going right for Mike Kehoe.  He has a 2-to-1 cash advantage on his opponents…combined. He is drawing huge crowds to places that simply do not turn out for political events, and is working to turn the stale endorsement pile into tangible things to actually help his campaign.
He has been on TV in Springfield for several weeks now and the race has tightened a great deal there, and overall.  I’m skeptical that Kehoe has closed the gap to under 5% statewide at this point, but I’m also skeptical that he hasn’t closed the gap to at least 8-12% and trending the right way for him. When you raise $200,000 in Dexter and have 300 people turn out your fish fry in Fairdealing something is stirring. I’ve been picking up the sense that Kehoe through personally traveling the state and connecting with business leaders has an undercurrent of folks who haven’t been involved before or had distanced themselves from the political process who are involved and all in for him. It’s a very unique thing in a political campaign.
Bottom line: The race could have gotten away from him, but it hasn’t. He just needs to keep bringing in the money and be prepared to weather Ashcroft’s attacks. 

Total Raised this quarter: $556,538
Total Raised this Cycle: $3,152,667
Cash on Hand: $1,745,279
American Dream PAC
Total Raised this quarter: $1,823,253
Cash on Hand: $4,521,791
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $6,267,070

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft 
Ashcroft has been improving on the stump, and he saw a little increase in his fundraising pace too. However, he could have run away with this race, but hasn’t. There are plenty eager to jump on any mistake he has made, and there have been some gaffes but that isn’t gonna hurt him with the voters, but it’s possible the gaffes are hurting him with donors.
He has Eigel chipping away at his right wing, but make no mistake John Jay Ashcroft has a floor of support in this republican party. I would say that floor is around 20-25%.  Jay picked up an endorsement of the African-American St. Louis Police Officer’s Union, which he can play well in St. Louis. The campaign is improving, but the race is tightening.
Bottom line: He still polls as the front-runner, but the race is tightening. Starting when session ends he is going to have to start landing the contributions that a front-runner lands. 

Total Raised this quarter: $158,001
Total Raised this Cycle: $954,647
Cash on Hand: $ 656,006
Committee for Liberty PAC
Total Raised this quarter: $351,938.
Cash on Hand: $1,908,777
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $2,564,783

Senator Bill Eigel 
Senator Eigel needs a lot of things to go right for him to win this race. He ended the 4th quarter with a lot of those things going right. The first quarter has not been as encouraging. His time was taken up with session, and he came into this session to raise some hell, and he has.  Eigel has his base of folks who are passionate and engaged and they make for a strong and boisterous base who love it when he filibusters everything. However, at this stage in the campaign that might be limiting his ability to get in rooms with big donors.
He is still the best orator, and the best interview in the party. He also has Jim Lembke and Sophie Shore fresh off her big win in Springfield on fire for him, but still he is gonna have to turn some of that energy into a way to land some bigger donors outside of just trial lawyers.
Bottom line: He still has the elements in place to pull off this upset, but it’s pretty clear that he needs some big money to go along with his big grassroots in order to move this campaign to the next phase. 

Total Raised this quarter: $232,514
Total Raised this cycle: $1,309,813
Cash on Hand: $727,019
Believe in Life and Liberty (BILL) PAC
Total Raised this quarter: $340,159
Cash on Hand: $1,001,608
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $1,728,627

Democrats
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade
Rep. Quade is doing everything possible to improve on Nicole Galloway’s numbers from ‘20, and help lead the Democratic ticket to a better showing than ‘22.  She has all the talent to lead her party’s ticket and is doing more work than I’ve seen any Democrat doing on a statewide since the McCaskill days.  Whether this admittedly long shot of a race is a precursor to a future statewide run like similar races were for Jay Nixon, or a way to keep her relevant before a ‘26 State Senate run, or both she is putting her best foot forward.
However, her primary is a problem for her. Not really because she will lose, of course she could but a woman vs. a man in a Democratic primary in the year that abortion will be on the ballot is a race she should win, but it will likely drain her funds and hurt the overall ticket in the general.
Bottom line: I suppose that you can only control what you can control, but she is excelling at the things she can control. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $243,777
Cash on Hand: $298,644.
CRYSTAL PAC
Cash on Hand: $92,271
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $390,915

Springfield Businessman Mike Hamra
There are a lot of things to like about Mike Hamra. He is a businessman, he is from a part of the state where Democrats are doing better, but could use a shot in the arm, he can self fund his campaign.  Like I said there are a lot of things to like about Mike Hamra. Except of course that he doesn’t meet the qualifications to run for Governor of Missouri.
There is a reason the Democrats lose, and fumbling this primary is a glaring one of them.
Bottom line: He could have made a big splash and been someone to watch if the Democrats start competing in Missouri again. However, currently he is just on track to drain Rep. Quade’s money in a losing primary effort. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $1,273,438
Cash on Hand: $912,654
Together Missouri PAC
Cash on Hand: $171,925
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $1,084,579

Lt. Governor: Primary: LEAN HOUGH – General: SAFE REPUBLICAN
Senator Lincoln Hough
Senator Hough got into the race just a few weeks before the filing deadline, and has raised money at a pace typically reserved only for Governor or U.S. Senate candidates.
Hough is a cattle farmer from Greene County who has a lengthy record in the state senate. He has been the senate appropriations chairman during the time when they have rebuilt I-70 and been the author of the state’s biggest tax cut.
He is extremely plain-spoken which has led to some of the activist base being offended by some of his legislative moves, but let’s be honest this is the party of Donald Trump who wasn’t known for coddling snowflakes either.
With the endorsements from the ag groups as well as the police and firefighter groups he has set the stage for the most professional down-ballot race in a long time.
Hough should have the money to go up on TV early and build a lead. Then see which one of his opponents wants to spend to try and bring him down to earth. Typically in a three or four-way race all the other candidates spend on getting their message out and just hope that the others tear down the front-runner. Time will tell.
Bottom line: There is a dollar figure that he could reach that makes him real hard to beat. It appears that he is gonna get close to that number. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $294,759
Cash on Hand: $377,679
LINCOLN PAC
Cash on Hand: $1,215,119
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $1,592,798

Senator Holly Rehder
Senator Rehder has tons of political talent from giving a great speech to fundraising to developing her connections around the state. She has been tied up with session for a great deal of the spring, but you have to think she has some large checks out here to collect once session ends.
Senator Rehder will be a factor in this race until polling day.
Bottom line: Like all candidates on the tipsheet, she will have to raise money to be there at the end, but with a half-million dollar start and some likely large checks out there to collect after session she will be one of the candidates at the end whether this is a true 1 on 1 or a three-way race or even a five-way race. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $443,657
Cash on Hand: $302,928
Southern Drawl PAC
Cash on Hand: $264,595
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $567,523

David Wasinger 
Wasinger is an attorney who ran for State Auditor in 2018 and has a background in politics serving on the board of curators and his wife was on the St. Louis County Council.
He came out of the gate quick with the Missouri Right to Life endorsement, and has been making the rounds. Wasinger jumped into fundraising quick, bringing in over $100,000 from some St. Louis connections and putting in $100,000 himself.
If the race turns nasty some folks will question his being place on the board of curators as a democrat appointee, but he will have to raise his profile before anyone starts firing attacks at him.
He put in a lot of money last time, but didn’t spend it and got upset in the primary. David Wasinger is a smart guy, I don’t think he would have run this time if he wasn’t prepared to spend the money.
Bottom line: It will cost a lot of money to get himself known in a crowded primary, especially with another St. Louis businessman in Porter on the ballot. Will he spend enough to get known? Then will he spend more of his own money to go on the attack?

Total Raised this Cycle: $237,428
Cash on Hand: $222,553

Tim Baker
The Franklin County Clerk is a very nice guy with a solid everyman stump speech. Plus, he has the grace and understanding to put up with Dave Hinson every day.
Baker starts with a good base in Freedom Loving Franklin County and is hitting all of the republican events. He will have to get in the fundraising game quick to keep up with Hough.
Bottom line: Great guy, gonna have to get great at raising money, and get great quick. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $5,985
Cash on Hand: $5,645

Matthew Porter
Porter is a tech guy from St. Louis who jumped into the race late, and apparently is planning to spend some of the money he earned in the tech sector to become Lt. Governor.
His entry is bad news for Wasinger as they could end up calling on some of the same folks for money, and it gets complicated when there are two self-funders. Will be interesting to see if Porter has the chops to throw some elbows in his first campaign.
Bottom line: He is just now kicking off his campaign so time will tell if he catches on. 

Total Raised this Cycle:$ N/A
Cash on Hand: $ N/A
Fighting for Missouri Families PAC
Cash on Hand: $N/A
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $N/A

Paul Berry III
Paul is a great guy who brings a lot of energy to any race. He has run several times in the St. Louis area so he has some name ID registered. However, he has filed two limited activity reports, and as of May 7th hasn’t filed his April 15th report.
Bottom line: Paul will have to start raising money to stay on the tipsheet. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $0
Cash on Hand: $0

Attorney General: Primary: TOSS UP General: SAFE Republican 
Attorney General Andrew Bailey
Andrew Bailey is a legitimate war hero with no voting record who has spent the last two and a half years of his life suing Joe Biden on the daily. Some are saying that he should be spending more time raising money.
He has a message, but it’s probably a contrasting one and there hasn’t been a lot of contrast.  The Bailey message should be simple: Bailey is from Montgomery County, Scharf is from New York. Bailey is a war hero, Scharf never served.
Bailey went to Mizzou, Scharf went to Harvard.
The problem might be can the Montgomery County farm boy take on all of Harvard’s wallets to get that message out.
Bottom line: It’s mind-boggling how much East Coast money Scharf has coming to attack Bailey. Can he raise enough Missouri money to fight them off?

Total Raised this Cycle: $856,858
Cash on Hand: $564,025
Liberty and Justice PAC
Cash on Hand: $1,986,822
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $2,550,847

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Scharf
Scharf is a brilliant lawyer who came into the year with let’s just say a less than an inspiring backstory. Then he got a gig representing Donald Trump in one of the hundred shady lawsuits he has been drug into. I can’t imagine Trump even has to pay Scharf as he has used it as his only campaign theme.
It’s a good one.  Scharf comes from unlimited money and his family with money has friends in politics with a lot of money and they are all apparently spending it in Missouri to get him elected. He has also pulled off the deft move of keeping the race on simmer without Bailey defining him.
Bottom line: He has enough money to distance himself from being from the East Coast and going to Harvard and convince folks to focus on his working for Trump. Does he have enough money to drown out Bailey’s message to change that focus?

Total Raised this Cycle: $1,149,596
Cash on Hand: $824,117
Defend Missouri PAC
Cash on Hand: $0
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $824,117

Secretary of State: Primary: TOSS UP General: SAFE Republica
House Speaker Dean Plocher
When he switched races from Lt. Governor, he entered a race where he has a cash on hand advantage of 4 to 1 on his closest competitor. Plocher has spent the past eight months mired in an endless ethics investigation that in many eras would have ended a career. However in the era of Trump the ethics fiasco gave him something he never really had: a message.
If Plocher grabs onto the issue and claims the mantle of fighter in the race then he has every chance to leverage his big cash on hand advantage in a crowded field to a win.
However, we will see if he can stay on message and define the issue, and there will be some folks likely more in the donor community that could be turned off by the whole drama.
Bottom line: If he hones his message and stays on it he has an advantage in a huge field. If he does that and reaches $2 million then he will be favored in the race. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $149,939
Cash on Hand: $528,314
Missouri United PAC
Cash on Hand: $810,651
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $1,338,965

Senator Denny Hoskins
Senator Hoskins is the OG of the candidate for Secretary of State, he has been running for his office for more than a year. He has banked a quarter million dollars, and has been addressing the most groups of Republicans for longer than anyone in the race. Further he is benefitting from the group of activists that Jim Lembke has built in the senate primaries he has been working in combined with the Missouri Right to Life endorsement.
He is also not above a gimmick, take the red jacket (I’ll still argue was inspired by the tacky fashion sense of David Pearce) and calling out Jay Ashcroft in a viral video which was more Trump than even Trump. Further he is owed some favors from some interest groups he has held the line for in the Senate…VLTs.
On the other hand, while he had the race to himself he couldn’t clear the field and now there is an 8-way primary going on.
Bottom line: No one in Missouri politics has any experience in navigating a statewide primary with 6-8 legitimate candidates. Anything can happen and there is no reason that Denny can’t win this. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $200,514
Cash on Hand: $100,464
Old Drum Conservative
Cash on Hand: $154,502
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $254,966

State Senator Mary Elizabeth Coleman
She has the most political talent of the group, but hasn’t done much in the race since moving over from CD3. You have to assume that next week when session is over she comes out swinging.
If the abortion IP is on the August ballot then you assume that helps her, and I would think there is some serious money coming from some lobbyist that she has shown up big for in the senate, but you can’t count that until the check hits.
Bottom line: I can see how she could get to half a million, and in this bizarre 8-way primary that might be enough because she probably does have the highest ceiling of anyone in this race. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $74,258
Cash on Hand: $23,008
Conservative Solutions for Missouri 
Cash on Hand: $77,290
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $100,298

Mike Carter
Mike Carter is the coolest guy on the ballot. Seriously if there is one guy on the tipsheet that you would want to go have a beer with it’s Mike. He has run a few times before, and I think he has always had some difficulty connecting that personality with voters, but he does have the money to make some moves and accomplish that this cycle.
In the past it’s always felt that he had an internal war between incorporating innovative marketing strategies that he has a passion for into his campaign while still doing the traditional campaign tactics that have proven to work.
Mike can do this for fun or to win and he is probably a winner if he does both.
Bottom line: If he decides he is in this to win this then he can spend a million dollars or more and can absolutely catch fire in the Trump cycle and there is probably nothing anyone else in the race can do to stop him.

Total Raised this Cycle: $N/A
Cash on Hand: $ N/A

Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller
Shane is one of the finest people in all of Missouri politics, and 3/4ths of the people who vote in this race who personally know him will be voting for him.
However, he has struggled to put together his fundraising, and that would normally mean that he doesn’t have a path. However, in an 8-way primary with him being the only southwest Missouri candidate I would argue that he has the highest floor of votes of anyone on the ballot.
That floor probably wouldn’t be enough to win a 2 or 3-way race, but in an 8-way he absolutely could.
Bottom line: If he raises enough money to run a full campaign in the Springfield and Joplin media market he can win if the winner needs between 18-24% of the vote. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $156,389
Cash on Hand: $21,102
Safe Elections PAC
Cash on Hand: $12,041
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $33,143

Rep. Adam Schwadron
When he entered the race there was some confusion on his path to winning. Then he banked a $100,000 check and 7 more people jumped into the race and here he is with a path. Now is it a clear path, well no, but I would argue the more folks who jump in the better the chances for Schwadron.
He has been doing everything a house member can do to get attention and has a very very polished stump speech on the Lincoln Day circuit. Schwadron has the benefit of being Jewish in a party that is solidly behind Israel.
However, he is gonna have to bank more of those $100,000 checks to keep in the upper tier of the race.
Bottom line: He is from primary vote-rich St. Charles County and in an 8-way if he can get to half a million then he has a legit chance to win. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $105,110
Cash on Hand: $82,705
Missouri Values PAC
Cash on Hand: $113,980
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $196,685

Valentina Gomez
She is fun to watch in her memes, and may be a star of the future. However, she is gonna have to convert memes to money in order to get any kind of message out in this enormous field of candidates.
Bottom line: This might be a trial run for a future race, as even if she comes up short I tend to doubt you have seen the last of her.

Total Raised this Cycle: $6,750
Cash on Hand: $4,244

Jamie Corley
She is a St Louisan who has gotten involved with a moderate abortion rights campaign. She hasn’t raised any money yet which is a problem, but there is something compelling about her.
Bottom line: Gonna have to commit to raising money to stay on the tipsheet. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $N/A
Cash on Hand: $N/A

State Treasurer: PRIMARY: LEAN MALEK GENERAL: SAFE Republican 
State Treasurer Vivek Malek
The incumbent is doing everything an incumbent needs to do to win. He is racking up miles around the state promoting MOBUCKS and his charter school program, while banking $2.5 million on hand. While his top two opponents have been tied up in the legislature and combined only have a third of his haul.
Obviously there are gonna be some folks who trip up on his name and I suspect there will be some pretty shady ads run against him. In the end, if he gets to $4 million I’m not sure anyone will be able to bring him down.
Bottom line: Until an effective attack hits, or until one of his opponents can even afford to run one, the race leans his way.

Total Raised this Cycle:$1,634,670
Cash on Hand: $1,299,681
American Promise PAC
Cash on Hand: $1,233,138
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $2,532,819

House Budget Chairman Rep. Cody Smith 
Smith is a solid statewide contender with a legit legislative resume who comes from the primary vote-rich southwest Missouri area. He has half a million on hand and you would assume can count on some money from school choice folks and some of the groups who he has funded in the state budget the last half a decade.
His headwinds are that he and Koenig occupy a lot of the same ground and a lot of the same allies, and Lori Rook being from Springfield will take some votes he might have had first crack at.
Bottom line: He has half a million, if he gets to a million he can communicate his message. However, he is gonna need more to tear down Malek, and he has the potential to raise that more. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $722,667
Cash on Hand: $330,888
Ozark Gateway Leadership PAC
Cash on Hand: $174,016
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $504,904

State Senator Andrew Koenig
Tremendous legislator who will leave the Senate with a lot of admirers. The question will become can he turn some of those admirers into contributors.
If hard work can win it, he will win it. He starts off with some name ID in St. Louis, the state’s most expensive media market, just under $200,000 on hand, and the experience of winning races where he wasn’t the favorite.
Koenig is gonna need all of that and to catch some breaks, but as several St. Louis politicians who he has defeated can personally attest, Andrew Koenig has been lucky before!
Bottom line: He is going to have to put together a stellar quarter or he will be waiting to see if Cody Smith will attack Malek and open the door for him to split the middle. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $196,743
Cash on Hand: $114,065
Freedom’s Promise 
Cash on Hand: $67,065
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $181,130

Springfield Attorney Lori Rook 
Rook is an attorney from Springfield who obviously has the financial wherewithal to compete in the race. Her background is in elder law and she does come to the race with some connections, and put her money where her mouth is with a $500,000 contribution to show she is serious.
Let me think, have you ever heard of the only woman winning an upset in a four-way primary against three men…oh wait 2018. She isn’t the only woman now, but it seems she will be the only woman who can go up on TV. Time will tell how well she takes to the campaign or if she actually spends the money, but if she does both she will be a factor.
Bottom line: She has to spend the money she put in, and spend it well to cash in on being the only woman on TV in the race. 

Total Raised this Cycle: $537,963
Cash on Hand: $506,978.
TOTAL CASH ON HAND: $506,978.

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.

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