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Records show big donations, heavy spending for Missouri gubernatorial race

Posted: 6:27 AM, Aug 04, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-04 07:27:42-04

Missouri gubernatorial candidates Eric Greitens (R) and Chris Koster (D) secured the nominations for their respective parties on Tuesday after both received hefty donations and spent millions of dollars campaigning.

Financial records from the Missouri Ethics Commission tallied each primary candidates' total receipts and money on hand as of July 25, eight days before the Missouri primaries on Tuesday. All four Republican gubernatorial candidates, including Eric Greitens, spent around $22 million combined for Tuesday’s primary.

Greitens spent just over $8 million for the primary, the most of the four Republican candidates. The amount of money spent by the other candidates, however, did not equate to success with voters.

Catherine Hanaway, who spent $5.1 million for the Republican gubernatorial primary, finished last in the polls.
Her competitors, John Brunner and Peter Kindle, spent around $7 million and $2.5 million on the race, respectively.

Political writer and Ingram’s Magazine Executive Editor Jack Cashill said the amount of money spent by the candidates showed how significant the race was.

“What you had this year were four candidates. Four candidates with either money or constituency,” Cashill explained. “It just amplified the amount of money that was going to be spent."

Greitens was helped along the way by generous donations. According to records from the Missouri Ethics Commission, the top three donors for Greitens were:

  • Seals for Truth (Washington, D.C.) - $1.975 million
  • Sheldon Adelson, CEO/Chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corporation - $200,000
  • James Parsons, CEO of Junto Capital Management - $50,000

Cashill explained that the large donations from out of state for Greitens showed that donors see a bright future in the Republican candidate.

“Outsiders are investing in his future,” he said. “They want to be part of that future and if you get on the ground floor, then you always have that person’s ear."

On the Democrat side, Chris Koster spent big and won big. Over the course of the campaign season, Koster spent 2,500 times more money than his three opponents combined.

On Tuesday, Koster received 79 percent of the ballots cast in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, beating his closest challenger by almost 70 percentage points. Records show Koster received around $15.7 million in donations for the primary.

His next closest competitor, Eric Morrison, only spent around $1,600 for the primary. Because of the lack of a serious challenge, Koster’s campaign still had around $10.8 million in hand as of July 25th. A list of donors revealed many of Koster’s large donations coame from out of Missouri.

According to the records, Koster’s top five donors were:

  • The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (Washington, D.C.) - $750,000
  • United Auto Workers (Detroit, MI) - $350,000
  • UA Political Education Committee (Annapolis, MD) - $275,000
  • International Association of Fire Fighters (Washington, D.C.) - $250,000
  • United Food & Commercial Workers Active Ballot Club (Washington, D.C.) - $250,000

Many of the large donations came from labor groups, since issues close to them could be impacted by gubernatorial races, according to Cashill.

“Labor is trying to make sure Missouri does not go right-to-work,” he explained. “That's where this money is coming from and that's what it's all about."

Cashill said he expects the amount of large donations and vast spending to increase as Election Day gets closer.

“Expect a very colorful, very dramatic, pretty brutal campaign throughout the fall," he explained.

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Tom Dempsey can be reached at  Tom.Dempsey@KSHB.com.

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