Government & Politics

Late spending push helped lift Quinton Lucas, but not Steve Miller, in KC mayor runoff

Council members Justus, Lucas win Kansas City mayoral primary, will face off in June

Councilwoman Jolie Justus and Councilman Quinton Lucas emerged victorious in Tuesday night’s Kansas City mayoral primary, prevailing over nine competitors for the chance to face off in the June general election.
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Councilwoman Jolie Justus and Councilman Quinton Lucas emerged victorious in Tuesday night’s Kansas City mayoral primary, prevailing over nine competitors for the chance to face off in the June general election.

A last-minute spending push appears to have helped vault Councilman Quinton Lucas past other top contenders and into the runoff for Kansas City mayor, campaign finance reports released Tuesday show.

Lucas, who will face fellow council member Jolie Justus in the June 18 general election, dropped $77,998.98 into the race in late March, more than double what he spent during the much longer filing period from mid February through March 21.

That late spending just days ahead of the primary election was likely a crucial element of his success on April 2. A mid-March poll commissioned by The Kansas City Star placed Lucas at 4 percent, trailing Justus, construction attorney Steve Miller, Councilwoman Alissia Canady and Councilman Jermaine Reed.

Lucas finished with 18 percent of the vote, second only to Justus, who collected 23 percent.

The latest campaign filing was due Monday and includes data from March 22 through March 31. But Lucas’ campaign didn’t file his report until after 5 p.m. Tuesday, a full day late, which will likely result in a $10 fine from the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Lucas wasn’t the only one to spend furiously in the final days of the campaign. Miller, whose prolific mailers and signs landed in mailboxes and on front yards early in the campaign, poured more than $83,000 into the race in late March. For him, it yielded a fourth-place finish behind Justus, Lucas and Canady, who outperformed several candidates with more money.

Justus, who finished first at the polls, was second in spending in the final days. She paid out about $26,000, primarily to campaign staff, but raised more than $40,000 to replenish her campaign after spending the bulk of her cash in the month-and-a-half before the primary. She spent $332,468.08 between Feb. 17 and March 21.

She has $56,471.81 on hand for the general election.

A powerhouse fundraiser, Justus brought in a total of $717,238.06 and spent $658,690.10. She also benefited from more than $90,000 spent on her behalf by Carpenters Help in the Political Process, a political action committee. She was endorsed in the primary by the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council.

Most of Lucas’ last-minute spending — $39,786.40 — paid for consulting, including $5,000 for general consulting and $34,786.40 specifically for communications consulting. He spent nearly $9,000 on paid advertising, nearly $1,400 printing campaign materials and $15,000 on research from Penn, Schoen Berland, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting group.

According to PSB’s website, it can help identify and activate target voters, develop campaign messages and provide polling and other campaign intelligence.

Lucas also paid out about $8,500 for campaign workers days ahead of the vote.

In the last days of the campaign, he raised only $4,773, but he had $67,402.59 on hand as of March 31.

Miller paid most of the $83,000 to Ingress Strategies, which handled his printing, mail, digital marketing and texting services. He started spending heavily prior to the reporting period and totaled nearly $574,000 for the cycle.

After Miller, Lucas and Justus, Councilman Scott Taylor was the biggest spender down the stretch, disbursing more than $19,100. Canady spent nearly $14,000 from March 22 to March 31, more than the $4,615 she raised over the same period

Her third-place finish appeared to be the result of strong grassroots support. She spent just over $76,400 for the cycle.

Phil Glynn, a Crossroads businessman and first-time candidate, raised $4,710 as election day approached, and spent roughly half that amount. He finished the race with more than $70,000 on hand.

Councilman Scott Wagner, 1st District at-large, raised nearly $2,000 in the final days and spent $4,149.86.

The KC Leadership Fund backed Wagner with more than $21,000 in spending, and Southland Progress chipped in more than $650 for Taylor.

Reed, the 3rd District council member who is termed out of his council seat, also had not filed a quarterly report.

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Allison Kite reports on City Hall and local politics for The Star. She joined the paper in February 2018 and covered Midterm election races on both sides of the state line. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with minors in economics and public policy from the University of Kansas.