Elections

Missouri winners and losers in Tuesday’s election

Republican Eric Greitens was elected Missouri governor on Tuesday.
Republican Eric Greitens was elected Missouri governor on Tuesday.

Missourians did more than just turn over the reins of state government to the Republican Party on Tuesday.

Like Kansas in 2010, Missouri voters have unleashed a conservative agenda that could change the state for a generation.

In recent years the GOP has used its veto-proof super majorities in the Missouri House and Senate to enact a laundry list of conservative policy initiatives, from a $600 million tax cut to some of the toughest restrictions on abortion in the nation.

But the threat of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto pen stymied many of their biggest priorities.

Those days are over.

A myriad of tougher regulations on labor unions are all but certain, while regulations on business will be loosened. The public education system could see an overhaul, along with the state’s court system.

The tax cut passed in 2014 hasn’t kicked in yet, but additional tax cuts are likely on the horizon.

Democratic hopes of the legislature expanding Medicaid eligibility to cover 300,000 uninsured Missourians are all but dead.

Here’s a look at the winners and losers from the 2016 election in Missouri:

WINNERS

Eric Greitens, Governor

It’s hard to argue any Missourian had a better night on Tuesday than former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens.

He’d never before sought elected office, yet he emerged victorious from a bruising four-way GOP primary in August, besting a three-term lieutenant governor, a former Missouri House speaker and a multimillionaire.

Then on Tuesday, he cruised to a six-point victory over two-term state Attorney General Chris Koster, despite the Democrat winning endorsements from traditionally Republican groups like the National Rifle Association and Missouri Farm Bureau.

“Tonight begins a new generation of conservative leadership here in Missouri,” Greitens told supporters gathered in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield on Tuesday. “Tonight, we did more than win an election. We restored power to the people and we took our state back.”

Josh Hawley, Attorney General

University of Missouri law professor Josh Hawley is considered a rising star in the Republican Party and a darling of the conservative movement.

He’s clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and participated in the successful lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. He’s had love heaped upon him by national conservative media and by the evangelical community.

On Tuesday, the 36-year-old Rockhurst High School graduate won more votes than any other person on the Missouri ballot — including President-elect Donald Trump.

His vow to take on federal regulations guarantees he’ll continue to garner national headlines, and Republicans expect the attorney general’s office is just the first stop of Hawley’s promising political career.

David Humphreys

The Joplin businessman and his family spent more than $11 million this year trying to oust union-friendly Republicans from the legislature and elect Eric Greitens and Josh Hawley. That’s more than the family had spent in the seven years prior.

Humphreys, whose family owns a manufacturing company in Joplin called TAMKO Building Products Inc., will be rewarded next year with something he’s never had: A legislature ready and able to approve his policy priorities — tougher regulations on labor unions and reforms to the state’s legal system.

Ethics reform

Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved an amendment to Missouri’s constitution reinstating campaign contribution limits.

In a system that’s been flooded with six- and seven-figure donations in recent years, the amendment caps donations to candidates at $2,600 per election and to political parties at $25,000. It also imposes other campaign finance restrictions aimed at preventing political committees from obscuring the source of their money.

However, it will have to survive an inevitable onslaught of legal challenges to go into effect.

Greitens made ethics reform the centerpiece of his campaign for governor, despite his candidacy benefiting from more than $6 million in dark money spending. He’s vowed to ban lobbyist gifts to elected officials and establish a longer waiting period before lawmakers can become lobbyists after they leave office.

Additionally, Hawley says he will set up a corruption unit in the attorney general’s office to “hold public officials accountable for misuse of their offices.”

Clay County voters in District 17 waited between two and four hours to cast their ballots on Election Day

LOSERS

Democrats

Election Day left Democrats with only two statewide elected officials — U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and Auditor Nicole Galloway. In the legislature, the party barely exists outside of St. Louis and Kansas City.

Its biggest stars were defeated, and the party faces the likelihood of an avalanche of conservative legislative victories next year.

Republicans succeeded in amending the state’s constitution to require a photo ID to vote, which Democrats worry will disenfranchise some of its most loyal voters. Labor unions, another piece of the Democratic Party base, see dark clouds on the horizon.

To put it bluntly, a Missouri Democratic Party that was already stumbling was decimated on Tuesday.

Unions

Missouri becoming a right-to-work state is a matter of when, not if.

Republicans have tried for years to pass right to work, which would make it illegal for anyone to be required to become a union member or to pay dues to a labor organization as a condition of employment.

But a handful of labor-friendly Republicans always thwarted the push, joining with Democrats to sustain Nixon’s vetoes.

Unions spent big to support Koster, knowing Greitens would sign a right-to-work law. They also worked to protect those labor-friendly Republican lawmakers that proved their saviors over the years.

In both fights, labor lost.

In addition to right to work, Republicans will likely approve new restrictions on public employee unions and rolling back the state’s prevailing wage law.

LGBT Rights

Discrimination based on age, race, religion or gender is against the law in Missouri.

But those protections don’t extend to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals. That means a person can legally be fired from a job, evicted from an apartment or kicked out of a restaurant for being gay or simply being perceived to be gay.

Among the most outspoken proponents of changing that was state Rep. Stephen Webber, a Columbia Democrat who has sponsored the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act for years. On Tuesday, he lost out to Republican Caleb Rowden for a seat in the Missouri Senate.

Nixon, who has mentioned gay rights in his state of the state address for years, will be replaced by Greitens, who opposes extending discrimination protections to LGBT Missourians.

And Hawley has been a strident proponent of “religious freedom” laws, which allow certain individuals and businesses who cite religious beliefs to refuse service to same-sex couples.

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