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Are the Missouri August Primary results a fluke or the beginning of a trend?
Many Republican voters pulled a Democrat ballot August 5th, in St. Louis County. Having crossed over once, how many will do it again in November? It is no secret that the Republican legislature in Jefferson City has exhibited minimal leadership on major issues while spending most of a short legislative calendar talking about issues invented by lobbyists.
Republican voters expected more.
Many St. Louis County Republican voters are baffled by the absence of political ‘guts’ displayed in Jefferson City. Those who took the time to go door-to-door convincing neighbors to vote Republican are mortified by a legislature (that has a veto proof majority in both the House and the Senate) and still cannot accomplish anything of substance. Most of them believe Republican politicians have not made good use of the huge mandate which has been given to them. Politicians talk about big goals on the campaign trail but become timid within the confines of the State Capitol.
Big ideas which drive the political direction of a legislative body are not on display in Jefferson City. As a result, St. Louis County’s Republican voters are adrift.
Republican rank and file dissatisfaction with a legislature that cannot accomplish anything of substance may allow the Democrats to win a majority in the House or the Senate within two or three election cycles.
If Republican voters are not adrift, why did so many Republican voters who voted for Steve Stenger continue to vote for other Democrats? Asked more directly, why were Republican voters so unsure their County Executive candidate was going to win in November that they had to vote for Stenger to make sure Dooley would be gone.
Democrat candidates running in St. Louis County received a huge increase in their normal vote count. Those numbers most likely came from Republican voters who voted Democrat. Like the alcoholic who takes that first drink, Republican voters who voted Democrat in August might do it again in November.
In the 2014 St. Louis County Executive primary, Republican candidate Rick Stream received 34,765 votes. (Tony Pousosa received 16,433) Four years ago, Republican Bill Corrigan received 66,288 votes, 31,523 votes more than Rick Stream.
In the Democrat primary, Steve Stenger received 84,980 votes (50,215 more votes than Rick Stream). Charlie Dooley received 39,027 votes (4262 more votes than Rick Stream). There were 127,868 Democrat votes cast for County Executive compared to only 51,198 Republican votes cast.
In St. Louis County, Republican Congresswoman Ann Wagner received 40,467 Republican primary votes. Democrat challenger Arthur Lieber received 48,742 Democrat primary votes. (Lieber’s totals for St. Louis, St. Charles, and Jefferson counties were 54,369. Wagner’s totals were 54,949, only 588 more votes than the Democrat.)
Compare the numbers above to the vote totals from the 2012 St. Louis County primary election. Then, four Republican primary candidates for Missouri’s 2nd Congressional district received 63,978 votes. Of that total, Mrs. Wagner received 42,573 votes (2106 more votes than she received in 2014). Four 2012 Democrat primary candidates received a total of 22,446. 2014 candidate Lieber received 48,742, which was 26,296 more votes than four 2012 Democrat candidates.
In the recent primary election, soon to be Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives, John Diehl Jr. (District 89) received 3445 Republican votes. His Democrat opponent Al Gerber received 2928 Democrat votes (only a 517 vote difference). In 2012, Mr. Diehl ran unopposed by a Democrat and received 5773 Republican votes.
Republican State Representative Andrew Koenig (District 99) received 2198 votes. Perennial candidate William (Bill) Pinkston (Democrat) received 2477 votes, 279 votes more than Representative Koenig. (In November 2012, Mr. Pinkston received 41% of the vote to Mr. Koenig’s 59 %.)
In the Missouri State Senate District 24 race, Democrat Representative Jill Schupp (District 88) received 16,153 votes in her primary race compared to a total of 11,625 votes for three Republicans seeking to replace retiring Republican State Senator John Lamping. Mrs. Schupp received 4528 more votes than all three Republicans.
The St. Louis County primary results are dramatically different this year than 2012 or 2010. Are those results a fluke or the beginning of a trend?
(Lee Presser is the Host and Executive Producer of Conversation with Lee Presser which has appeared on Charter cable in Metro St. Louis since January 2001)