Election 2016: Greitens leads GOP sweep of state-level offices

Updated at 1 a.m.

Republicans swept Missouri Tuesday as a majority of the state voted red for the five major state offices that were up for grabs.

It all started with Eric Greitens, a political newcomer running for governor. Around 10:30 p.m., Greitens addressed a roaring crowd during an election watch party at the Doubletree Hotel in Chesterfield.

“Tonight, we did more than win an election,” he said. “We restored power to the people and we took our state back!”

In a year of outsiders, the Republican Greitens, a nonprofit leader and former Navy SEAL, beat out Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster in a contentious Missouri gubernatorial race.

Four other Republicans also were elected to state-level office Tuesday: Mike Parson as lieutenant governor; Jay Ashcroft as secretary of state; Eric Schmitt as treasurer; and Josh Hawley as attorney general.

Unlike his opponent, Greitens campaigned against a minimum wage hike and Medicare expansion. He pledged to find additional funding for repairing state highways and bridges, but he has said he opposes increasing taxes to pay for the repairs. He also supports so-called “right-to-work” legislation that would prevent unions from requiring employees to pay membership dues. The legislation has been a contentious topic in Jefferson City during outgoing Gov. Jay Nixon’s time in office.

The polls have shown the race to be neck-and-neck leading up to election day. By Nov. 1, polling average by Real Clear Politics had Greitens at 46 percent of the votes, just half a point ahead of Koster.

Greitens stood out in the Republican primary as a political outsider and called for increased accountability in the state legislature. He beat out St. Louis businessman John Brunner, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway in the primary.

Missouri’s gubernatorial contest was the most expensive in the country — the Greitens campaign spent about $12.7 million on TV ads and the Koster campaign about $10.4 million, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

Koster, a Republican-turned-Democrat, was endorsed by the Missouri Farm Bureau and the National Rifle Association.

Chris Koster Democratic 1,261,110 45.40%
Eric Greitens Republican 1,424,730 51.29%
Cisse W Spragins Libertarian 40,718 1.47%
Don Fitz Green 20,785 0.75%
Lester Benton (Les) Turilli, Jr. Independent 29,774 1.07%

Lieutenant governor – Mike Parson (R)

Parson beat out Democrat Russ Carnahan in the race to be Missouri’s next lieutenant governor.

Parson, a former sheriff in Polk County and state senator from Bolivar, leaned on a conservative platform and voting record. He ran on a pledge to cut taxes and support Missouri farmers. He also backed a right-to-work bill in the state Senate in 2015.

Parson’s campaign spent considerably less than the Carnahan campaign: Parson spent about $749,000, compared with $1.3 million for Carnahan, a former state representative and U.S. Congressman.

Carnahan, who is the son of the late Gov. Mel Carnahan, campaigned on repairing infrastructure, expanding broadband access in remote areas and boosting tourism for the state.

Parson will replace Republican Peter Kinder, who lost to Greitens in the primary race for governor.

Russ Carnahan Democratic 1,153,393 42.11%
Mike Parson Republican 1,450,717 52.96%
Steven R. Hedrick Libertarian 68,665 2.51%
Jennifer Leach Green 65,733 2.40%

Secretary of state – Jay Ashcroft (R)

Ashcroft won the race for Missouri secretary of state over Democratic challenger Robin Smith.

Ashcroft is the son of John Ashcroft, former Missouri governor, U.S. senator and U.S. attorney general. Jay Ashcroft has been an attorney, engineer and college professor. Neither he nor his opponent had previously held public office before entering the race.

Ashcroft’s campaign focused on overseeing elections. He came out in strong support of legislation that would require a government-issued photo ID to vote, while Smith stood in opposition to it. The issue has been a contentious one that prompted senate Democrats to filibuster against a proposed law in the spring.

Ashcroft will replace Democrat Jason Kander, who was defeated by Sen. Roy Blunt in a race for U.S. Senate.

Robin Smith Democratic 1,046,769 38.26%
Jay Ashcroft Republican 1,581,428 57.80%
Chris Morrill Libertarian 107,663 3.94%

Attorney general – Josh Hawley (R)

The upstart Hawley won the race to be attorney general over Democratic prosecutor Teresa Hensley.

Hawley, a law professor at the University of MIssouri, campaigned to fight federal regulations on business and push for consumer fraud protection.

Hawley called for ethics reform in state government and pledged to push for a ban on legislators taking gifts from lobbyists. The issue of the “revolving door” has been a hot topic at the General Assembly this spring. The assembly successfully passed a bill prohibiting elected officials from working as paid political consultants, but stopped short of restricting gifts and funds from lobbyists.

Hawley’s platform also includes a “religious liberty protection plan,” which would allow businesses to deny service on religious grounds. Hawley also pledged to crack down on businesses that scam seniors and students.

Hawley ran as a political outsider and pulled an upset win over state senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) in the Republican primary.

Hawley is replacing incumbent Democrat Chris Koster, who lost his bid for governor to Republican Eric Greitens.

Teresa Hensley Democratic 1,124,620 41.31%
Josh Hawley Republican 1,597,857 58.69%

Treasurer – Eric Schmitt (R)

Schmitt won the race to be Missouri’s treasurer over Democrat Judy Baker.

Schmitt, a state senator from St. Louis County, touted his experience as chairman of the Economic Development Committee and advocating for children with autism. Baker, a former state representative, was the ranking member of the Budget, Health Care and Education committees in the General Assembly.

A big component of Schmitt’s plan is to push for more tax cuts. In February, Schmitt sponsored a bill to nearly double the $620 million tax cut of 2014 to over $1 billion.

Schmitt had a large funding advantage over his opponent: Schmitt raised over $2.5 million, compared with Baker’s $350,000, according to the Kansas City Star.

Schmitt will take over incumbent Treasurer Clint Zweifel, a Democrat, who cannot seek re-election because of the state’s term limits.

Judy Baker Democratic 1,061,804 39.15%
Eric Schmitt Republican 1,536,314 56.65%
Sean O’Toole Libertarian 77,844 2.87%
Carol Hexem Green 35,455 1.31%

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