Carnahan, Parson notch primary wins in race for lieutenant governor

Missouri’s race for lieutenant governor will feature Republican Mike Parson and Democrat Russ Carnahan after both men won primaries Tuesday.

Parson, a state senator from Bolivar, took 51.5 percent of the GOP vote to edge Kansas City attorney Bev Randles, who claimed 43.8 percent, in one of the day’s closest contests.

Carnahan won handily, getting nearly 76 percent of the Democratic vote to defeat Winston Apple (12 percent) and Tommie Pierson, Sr. (12 percent).

Libertarian Steven Hedrick ran unopposed.

Parson initially planned to seek the GOP nomination for governor, but he removed his name from the crowded field last July, opting instead to enter the lieutenant governor’s race.

In Randles, he defeated a candidate who had substantial backing from Rex Sinquefield, the St. Louis financier and conservative political donor. Thanks in large part to contributions from Sinquefield and groups associated with him, Randles raised $2.48 million. Parson, by comparison, raised $1.35 million.

Russ Carnahan | Courtesy of United States Congress
Russ Carnahan | Courtesy of United States Congress

Parson is an Army veteran and former Polk County sheriff. He was elected to the Missouri House in 2004, representing Polk and Cedar counties. He successfully ran for Missouri Senate in 2010. There, he was handler for the “Right to Farm” amendment that voters approved in 2014.

Parson’s website lists “promoting economic growth” as a key issue for him. The site touts his work on the Right to Farm amendment and his support of state tax cuts approved in 2014.

Carnahan is part of a family abundant in Missouri politicians. His grandfather, A.S.J. Carnahan, served in the U.S. House of Representatives and was the first U.S. ambassador to Sierra Leone, as a recent St. Louis Public radio report detailed. His late father, Mel Carnahan, served in several roles in state government, including governor from 1993-2000. His mother, Jean Carnahan, served a year in the U.S. Senate after Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash in 2000 and was elected to the Senate posthumously. Russ’ sister, Robin, served two terms as Missouri’s secretary of state.

Russ Carnahan was first elected to the Missouri House in 2000, and he served in the U.S. House from 2005 to 2013. However, when redistricting led to the elimination of one of Missouri’s Congressional districts, Carnahan lost a primary to Rep. William Lacy Clay of St. Louis.

Carnahan has expressed a desire to change how the Missouri Legislature works and to bridge gaps between urban and rural Missouri, St. Louis Public Radio reports. He also has expressed concern with Missouri’s lack of campaign finance restrictions, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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