Parson defeats Galloway in Missouri governor's race
Incumbent Republican Gov. Mike Parson has won another four years in office, turning back a challenge from Democratic Auditor Nicole Galloway on Tuesday.
Parson's win is at least partially a referendum on his hands-off approach to the coronavirus, which has been surging in Missouri for months. Missourians also supported the re-election bid of Republican President Donald Trump, who like Parson has opposed things such as mask mandates.
It was the first run for governor for both candidates. Parson, a former sheriff who was elected lieutenant governor in 2016, moved into the top job two years ago after former Republican Gov. Eric Greitens resigned in the face of possible impeachment amid multiple scandals.
Galloway’s pitch to voters is that Parson mangled his handling of the pandemic and that she would do better, including by requiring people to wear face masks. Parson, who has resisted imposing virus restrictions and instead left it to individuals to act responsibly to prevent the spread of the disease, has insisted that the state is managing the virus well and is campaigning on his record and support of law enforcement.
Meanwhile, political experts believe the 2nd Congressional District race between four-term Republican Rep. Ann Wagner and Democratic state Auditor Jill Schupp is a toss-up. The St. Louis-area district is among many suburban districts around the country that Democrats have targeted to flip.
Voters on Tuesday also will consider two ballot proposals, several other statewide and congressional races, and dozens of legislative contests.
Here’s a look at the top issues and candidates in Missouri’s election:
Missouri lawmakers passed a law allowing anyone to vote by mail this year because of the pandemic, as long as they got their ballots notarized. As of Sunday, about 828,000 Missouri voters had cast early in-person or mail-in ballots. That’s nearly three times as many as were counted in the last presidential election.
Elections officials were predicting a 75% voter turnout rate this election, which would be Missouri's highest since 1992, when 78% of registered voters cast ballots in an election won by Democrat Bill Clinton.
The Republican-led Legislature put a redistricting measure on Tuesday’s ballot that would override changes voters made two years ago to the process of redrawing the state’s electoral boundaries. The 2018 “Clean Missouri” initiative required state House and Senate districts to be drawn to achieve “partisan fairness” and made Missouri the first state to adopt a specific formula known as the “efficiency gap” to measure fairness. The Legislature’s alternative would shift partisan fairness and competitiveness to the bottom of the priority list for redistricting. It would also abolish the newly created position of a nonpartisan demographer to draft districts and instead make a pair of bipartisan commissions responsible for that task, as they had been in the past.
Currently, the Missouri governor and treasurer are the only statewide elected officials limited to two four-year terms. If voters approve Constitutional Amendment 1, those limits would also apply to the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and state auditor.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, 47, faces a challenge from Democrat Yinka Faleti, a 44-year-old Army veteran who previously worked as executive director of the St. Louis-area racial equity group Forward through Ferguson. Ashcroft supports requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Faleti criticized Ashcroft’s handling of elections during the pandemic.
Voters for the first time will weigh in on whether they think Parson made the right choice in naming Republican Eric Schmitt, 45, to replace former Attorney General Josh Hawley, who left office two years into his term to join the U.S. Senate. Schmitt had been serving as the state treasurer and previously was elected to the state Senate. Rich Finneran, 36, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, is challenging him.
Parson picked Republican Scott Fitzpatrick to succeed Schmitt as treasurer after Schmitt left for the attorney general’s office. Fitzpatrick, 33, at the time was leading the Budget Committee in the state House. Democrat Vicki Lorenz Englund, a 46-year-old former state representative, campaigned to unseat him.
Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe is also running in his first race for a statewide office. Parson named him lieutenant governor after Parson, who previously held the position, took over as governor when Greitens resigned. Kehoe, 58, is up against Alissia Cannady, a 41-year-old Democrat who performed well but ultimately lost a race to be Kansas City’s mayor. In Missouri, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately.
Beyond the 2nd District, incumbents are heavily favored to win reelection in six of Missouri’s eight congressional district. The other exception is in the 1st District, which covers St. Louis and part of St. Louis County. Cori Bush, a nurse and racial justice activist, pulled an upset in the August primary by defeating longtime incumbent Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay. Bush was elected Tuesday.