In next Tuesday’s statewide primaries, Missouri voters will select candidates to face off in the Nov. 8 general election. Here are The Star’s recommendations.
▪ Republican: At times the GOP primary has more resembled a demolition derby than a civilized discussion of plans and issues. While all four candidates tout right-wing stances, Catherine Hanaway has the most to recommend her.
It is concerning that Hanaway is being largely funded by a low-tax fanatic. But based on her record, if anyone can stand up to retired St. Louis businessman Rex Sinquefield while still taking his phone calls, it is Hanaway.
Considering her actions as Missouri House speaker and as an effective federal prosecutor, Hanaway has the talent, background and backbone to be Missouri’s first woman governor. She knows how to compromise and get things done. She worked well with Democrats while pushing legislation Republicans thought important. She has already dismissed Kansas-type tax-cutting as irresponsible.
She is the only one of the candidates who articulates detailed plans for important issues such as road-building, improving the efficiency of state government and cleaning up the messes at the University of Missouri.
Despite a massive war chest, Eric Greitens appears to be flaming out. Outsider business executive John Brunner lacks substance, and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder does not inspire confidence.
▪ Democrat: Attorney General Chris Koster easily eclipses the field. Koster is more conservative than many of the statewide Democratic candidates, but he has strong union backing and is an articulate advocate for many core issues that separate his party from Republicans.
The other candidates are Leonard Joseph Steinman, Eric Morrison and Charles B. Wheeler.
▪ Republican: Josh Hawley, a University of Missouri-Columbia law professor, is the genuine article when it comes to conservatism. Like it or not, he promises to support all of the conservative orthodoxies if he wins office. His record demonstrates he means what he says.
State Sen. Kurt Schaefer’s heavy-handed opportunism would be only a warmup act should he win office. Once described as the most dangerous man in Missouri state government, he should not be trusted with the keys to the state’s top law enforcement office.
▪ Democrat: Former Cass County prosecutor Teresa Hensley has a better background for the office than St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman.
Hensley spent 10 years running a prosecutor’s office, hiring and training lawyers and overseeing prosecution of major cases, including murder and sexual assault. Her use of training task forces would be valuable experience for the role the attorney general’s office must play in handling appellate cases.
Zimmerman is a good man with good ideas, has excellent drive and far more campaign funding than Hensley, but his background would be a better fit for another state office.
▪ Republican: State Sen. Mike Parson of Bolivar and Kansas City lawyer Bev Randles are strong candidates. Also filed is Arnie Dienoff of O’Fallon.
Parson is a pragmatic and effective lawmaker. A former Polk County sheriff who has won five Missouri races, he is well-funded from a wide range of sources. Parson has forcefully condemned attacks on police officers and has railed against the onslaught of negative attacks he blames for contaminating politics.
Randles, a solid voice for conservative causes, is known for becoming the first candidate in state history to receive a $1 million campaign donation from a single donor — Rex Sinquefield.
▪ Democrat: Former congressman Russ Carnahan, son of the late Gov. Mel Carnahan, is best-qualified. Carnahan served in Congress from 2005 until 2013, when Missouri lost a congressional seat. Carnahan wants to use this office to improve relations between rural and urban interests.
Other candidates are state Rep. Tommie Pierson Sr. of St. Louis and Winston Apple of Independence.
Secretary of state
▪ Republican: Jay Ashcroft, a lawyer and engineer and son of former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, is facing off against state Sen. Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit.
Ashcroft, who shows a better grasp of essential issues than Kraus, calls himself a consistent conservative. One of his goals would be to use the office to enhance cybersecurity and protect Missourians’ personal data.
Also on the GOP ballot is Roi Chinn.
▪ Democrat: Robin Smith, a former St. Louis newscaster who is also a licensed real estate broker, easily outshines candidates Bill Clinton Young and MD Rabbi Alam.
▪ Democrat: This contest has two solid candidates: former state Rep. Judy Baker of Columbia against first-time candidate Pat Contreras from Kansas City.
Baker has paid her dues and started with more name identification from her two successful Statehouse races and unsuccessful runs for Congress and lieutenant governor. She served as director of the Midwest regional office of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Baker says she would use the office platform for economic development to help bridge the rural/urban split.
Contreras, a former diplomat with the U.S. State Department who has worked as a banker and economist, has impressed party members with his vigorous style, his background and his successful fund-raising.
▪ Republican: State Sen. Eric Schmitt is the lone candidate.