Tame Pettis County primaries make way for November clashes

Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada speaks with Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft in the chambers of the Pettis County Commission Tuesday afternoon.

Missouri and Pettis County hosted an evening of expected outcomes in the state’s Primary Election.

Local candidates running unopposed came out of their primary ballots unscathed while contested heavyweights avoided upset. Tuesday’s Primary Election did more to set the stage for General Election battles rather than cause dramatics of its own.

U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, defeated Republican challenger John Webb, of Cleveland. She will go toe-to-toe with the winner of the Democratic primary, which came down to the wire between Renee Hoagenson and Hallie J. Thompson, both of Columbia. Hoagenson won the race by about 2,000 votes statewide.

Mark Bliss defeated Steven Koonse in the Libertarian Primary to run as a third-party candidate against Hartzler and the Democratic nominee.

Tuesday’s results officially kicked off the expected General Election showdown for the U.S. Senate between incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Republican Josh Hawley, Missouri’s attorney general.

Libertarian Japheth Campbell and Green Party candidate Jo Crain have also added their names to the final ballot for the Senate seat.

McCaskill defeated six other Democrats running in the primary while Hawley held off 10 challengers for the Republican nomination.

State Sen. Sandy Crawford, R-Buffalo, and three state representatives, Dave Muntzel, R-Boonville; Rep. Dan Houx, R-Warrensburg; and Rep. Dean Dohrman, R-La Monte, all ran uncontested primary campaigns as they strive to keep their seats in the Missouri Legislature.

Each of their opponents also ran unopposed. Joe Poor, of Phillipsburg, didn’t see a Democratic opponent on the ballot Tuesday and will go on to challenge Crawford for her Senate District 28 seat.

Democrat Raymond (Jeff) Faubion, of Fayette, will face Muntzel in November for House District 48, and James L. Williams, of Warrensburg, is set to run as the Democratic opponent to Houx for HD 54.

Dohrman will have both a Democratic challenger in Vince Lutterbie, of Marshall, and Libertarian opponent in Bill Wayne, of Warrensburg, in the General Election for his HD 51 seat.

Former Sedalia School District 200 Superintendent Brad Pollitt didn’t face a Republican challenger in his primary. Pollitt and Democrat Dan Marshall, both of Sedalia, will compete in the General Election for the seat now held by Rep. Nathan Beard, who chose not to seek re-election.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Koffman has already guaranteed his position on the bench in Pettis and Cooper County for another six years. He had neither a primary nor a General Election opponent.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway won her Democratic primary without an opponent on the ballot. Saundra McDowell came out on top of four Republicans running for the party nomination for the General Election race against Galloway.

Also unopposed in the primary, Libertarian Sean O’Toole, Green Party candidate Don Fitz and Jacob Luetkemeyer, of the Constitution Party, will join Galloway and McDowell on the state auditor ballot in November.

Missouri voters gave a resounding no to the right-to-work measure of Proposition A, which would have prohibited mandatory membership to labor unions as a condition of employment.

The Missouri Legislature passed the bill last year, but it was shot down in the public vote. Pettis County voters gave a lopsided result with 62.71 percent against the proposition and 37.29 in favor.

Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada said Proposition A was key in bringing local voters to the polls.

The right-to-work vote combined with heavily contested U.S. Senate races to draw 28.78 percent of Pettis County registered voters to participate in Tuesday’s election. Of 26,175 registered voters in the county, 7,532 cast ballots.

La Strada pointed to the 2014 midterm elections as a viable comparison for this year’s turnout. Four years ago, about 29 percent of voters in the county voted in highly contested local elections.

La Strada said he was pleased to see a similar amount of people voting in a primary that involved mostly uncontested candidates.

“I just want to thank everybody in the county that came out and voted, and I want to thank the poll workers,” he said. “Both parties, Democrats and Republicans, had very highly contested senatorial races, so I think that intrigued our voters to come out and vote along with Proposition A.”

Despite expecting relatively quiet primaries, Pettis County welcomed a visit from Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft on Tuesday. Ashcroft spent the previous 10 days visiting election authorities in west and central Missouri ahead of the primary election.

He commended the number of candidates who filed to run for state elections this year. The secretary of state’s office had more than 400 people file to run for a state or U.S. congressional office on the first day of filing in February.

“I think it’s great that we have so many people that are willing to get involved,” Ashcroft said. “I think it’s uplifting that so many people are willing to throw their hat into the ring and be a part of trying to make the state and their city and their county better.”

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