Republican Mike Cierpiot emerged victorious Tuesday night in a three-way race for an open seat in the Missouri Senate.
Cierpiot, of Lee’s Summit, received 50.3 percent of the vote, Democrat Hillary Shields 42.6 percent and independent Jacob Turk 7.1 percent.
Cierpiot will take the place of Republican Will Kraus, who resigned earlier this year to take a job with the state tax commission.
“I am incredibly grateful to our friends, family and supporters for their tireless work in support of our campaign,” Cierpiot said. “This was a hard-fought race, but our common sense conservative values ultimately prevailed.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The 8th District, which is based in eastern Jackson County, has been a Republican stronghold for decades. Cierpiot was expected to cruise to victory until Turk, a perennial Republican candidate for Congress, decided to run as an independent.
Many Republicans feared Turk and Cierpiot would divide Republicans voters and hand the race to Shields.
In the end, Cierpiot’s massive fundraising advantage helped carry him across the finish line — he and his allies spent 15 times more than his opponents combined during October.
Cierpiot reported spending $353,000 in October, including $150,000 on television ads, $90,000 on mailers and $40,000 on polling.
He was aided by the Missouri Senate Campaign Committee, which works to elect Republicans to the state Senate. That organization spent $300,000 on television ads boosting Cierpiot and attacking Shields.
And a political action committee connected to a nonprofit called Missouri Alliance for Freedom spent $110,000 on a controversial TV ad attacking Shields. The ad in question erroneously claimed Shields never called for the removal of a St. Louis County legislator who earlier this year said she hoped President Donald Trump would be assassinated.
Shields spent only $48,000 in October, mostly on mailers. Turk reported no spending at all.
Cierpiot, 64, is a retired operator for Southwestern Bell who has served in the Missouri House seven years, the last two as majority leader.
With Cierpiot joining their ranks when lawmakers return to Jefferson City in January, Republicans will hold 25 of the Missouri Senate’s 34 seats. He will have to run for a full four-year term next year and may again face Shields, who plans to go for the seat in 2018.
“This election, like Mike Cierpiot, was bought and paid for by out of district millionaires and billionaires,” Shields said in a statement. “2018 starts tomorrow and we will continue to fight for our public schools, affordable healthcare and middle-class families.”
Democrat Barbara Anne Washington will represent the Missouri House’s 23rd District in east Kansas City after defeating David Martin, a Republican, and Daniel Trott of the Green Party.
Washington will replace Democrat Randy Dunn, who resigned in May after accepting a job in Nebraska.