The Buzz

Mega donors spending big in race for Missouri governor

St. Louis businessman John Brunner is a Republican candidate for Missouri governor.
St. Louis businessman John Brunner is a Republican candidate for Missouri governor. The Associated Press

Each of the four Republican candidates vying to be Missouri’s next governor has an individual donor who is cutting huge checks to help fund their campaign, including one candidate who has decided to bankroll his efforts himself.

The latest to jump into the contest is Joplin businessman David Humphreys.

Last week he donated $250,000 to to Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, one of four Republicans running for governor. His sister, Sarah Atkins, gave another $250,000 Thursday. Those donations nearly double Kinder’s campaign war chest, as he only reported having $624,000 cash on hand in April.

The granddaddy of all campaign contributors – retired investor Rex Sinquefield of St. Louis – donated $890,000 to former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanway’s gubernatorial campaign. Two organizations Sinquefield funds, Missouri Club for Growth and First Rule Media, have chipped in another $400,000.

Hanaway reported having nearly $1.6 million cash on hand in April.

Former Navy SEAL Eric Grietens is the Republican with the largest pool of big donors – those whose individual donations total more than $5,000. Most come from outside Missouri, including his largest donor, venture capitalist Michael Goguen.

Goguen, who has given Greitens $1 million, recently became embroiled in controversy when he was sued over allegations that he kept a woman as a sex slave for 13 years.

Greitens reported having $4.1 million cash on hand in April.

Businessman John Brunner has several large donors, but he’s largely funding his campaign personally, chipping in more than $3.6 million of his own money. That level of spending was expected, since he spent $7.5 million of his own money on an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 2012.

Brunner reported having $3.2 million cash on hand in April.

On the Democratic side, the presumptive nominee is Attorney General Chris Koster. He has by far the most large donors of any candidate, with 70 individuals and groups cutting him checks of more than $5,000 this year alone, totaling more than $2.6 million.

Many of Koster’s big donors are attorneys. But his largest contributors are labor unions, such as the Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council, which has donated more than $750,000 to Koster’s campaign.

Koster reported having $7.4 million cash on hand in April.

One big donor who is making sure all his bases are covered is August Busch III, the great-grandson of the founder of Anheuser-Busch and the company’s former chairman. He’s donated $50,000 a piece to Brunner, Greitens and Kinder, as well as $35,000 to Hanaway and $20,000 to Koster.