Rex Sinquefield, the wealthy St. Louis financier who recently donated $750,000 to Catherine Hanaway’s 2016 campaign for Missouri governor, has upped the ante with a $1 million donation to a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.
Bev Randles, a 42-year-old Kansas City lawyer, on Monday set up a campaign committee for lieutenant governor. The donation is thought to be the largest single candidate donation in state history.
“Rex is one donor,” Randles told St. Louis Public Radio. “He represents one vote. He is not going to be the only person who contributes during this exploratory phase.”
If she proceeds with the campaign, Randles probably would face three-term incumbent Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican who has signaled he will seek a fourth term in 2016.
Some Republicans say that Sinquefield, who has backed many causes related to taxes and public education in the state, appears to be supporting a slate of GOP candidates for the 2016 statewide ballot. Besides Hanaway and Randles, that slate includes state Sen. Kurt Schaefer for attorney general and state Sen. Eric Schmitt for treasurer. Sinquefield has donated $250,000 to Schmitt.
Sinquefield’s involvement has divided the GOP between those who think he is giving the party a lift and those who don’t. Among the critics is state Auditor Tom Schweich, who is considering a bid for governor against Hanaway.
On the Democratic side, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill has spoken out against Sinquefield’s growing influence and is backing a proposal to reinstate limits on campaign donations in Missouri. McCaskill is widely believed to be considering a run for governor in 2016Some Republicans say Sinquefield’s record-setting contributions only fuel the movement to limit donations.
Randles would be the first African-American on a major-party statewide ballot in at least two decades. The last was Alan Wheat, a then-congressman from Kansas City who was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in 1994. Wheat lost badly to Republican John Ashcroft.
Randles is the chairwoman of the Missouri chapter of the conservative Club for Growth. She said that position has helped her get to know state lawmakers and the workings of state government.
“As a lifelong Missourian who has had the opportunity to rise from humble beginnings to achieve numerous successes, my hope is that I can help others throughout our state realize similar opportunities to achieve their own goals,” she said Monday in a statement.