Big ticket: Familiar faces vie for statewide offices
A rush of politicians seeking higher office this year created a unique election in Missouri in which no race for statewide office features an incumbent candidate. However, there are still plenty of familiar names on the ballot.
The elections for Missouri’s top jobs in Jefferson City will feature two current Missouri senators and one former Missouri House member. There’s also a well-known St. Louis newswoman and two sons of former Missouri governors, one of whom once served in Congress.
Keep reading for a look at these races. In addition, Missouri Business invited these candidates to a video interview. Several candidates agreed and those videos are included with this story.
Lieutenant Governor: Russ Carnahan vs. Mike Parson
In Missouri’s lieutenant governor’s race, two experienced elected officials are vying to succeed Peter Kinder, who served as lieutenant governor since 2005 but gave up the seat this year to run for governor.
Mike Parson, a Republican from Bolivar, currently serves in the Missouri Senate. In that role, he has pushed for reforms to Missouri’s litigation climate. He also voted in favor of the 2014 income tax cut legislation and supports efforts to bring right-to-work to Missouri. He has said he would focus on advocating for veterans, seniors, tourism and the agriculture industry if elected.
“If something should ever happen to the governor, you have to understand that you have to go in there and take his place until you get a new governor …,” Parson said in a social media campaign video. “I think at times it takes a little gray hair. It takes a little experience to be able to handle those situations if they ever come up.”
Democrat Russ Carnahan served in both the Missouri and the U.S. House of Representatives. He left Congress in 2013 after his congressional district was eliminated. Some of his notable business-related votes include supporting the 2009 economic stimulus package and the Affordable Care Act. He also touts his votes in favor of transportation funding and energy research.
“We need to do better in education, from early childhood to grade school and college,” Carnahan said in a statement on his campaign website. “We need to do better for those working two jobs and still not making ends meet. We need to do better to help those starting and growing their own businesses. And we need to do better in rebuilding the middle class.”
Attorney General: Josh Hawley vs. Teresa Hensley
Missouri’s attorney general race features two candidates who have never held an elected office in Jefferson City.
Republican Josh Hawley is a law professor at the University of Missouri School of Law. He has expertise in constitutional law and is a noted advocate for religious liberty. He attended Yale Law School. In his campaign, Hawley has advocated for tort reform and pledged to fight federal regulations.
“I think we need someone who comes from the practice of law and who has a record and experience defending business and defending the private sector against government regulation,” said Hawley.
Democrat Teresa Hensley is a private attorney and the former Cass County prosecutor. She attended law school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In 2012 she ran for the U.S. House of Representatives and lost. She has highlighted her experience during her campaign.
“[The attorney general’s office] is a law office first,” Hensley said in a St. Louis television interview. “It is first and foremost an office of 180 attorneys that go into court around the state. It ought to have someone who has significant legal experience and some significant experience as a prosecutor.”
The winner will replace Chris Koster, who is running for governor.
Secretary of State: Jay Ashcroft vs. Robin Smith
Missouri’s next secretary of state will be a first-time officeholder.
Republican Jay Ashcroft is an attorney who previously worked as a professor of mechanical engineering. He lost a race for a Missouri Senate seat in 2014. He said he is looking to change the tone in the secretary of state’s office.
“The last couple individuals we’ve had there have been more concerned with making headlines,” he said. “When you want to make headlines, you go after businesses instead of helping support businesses to do things well, correctly and legally so they can build their widget and be successful and hire more individuals.”
Democrat Robin Smith was a St. Louis television news reporter and anchor for more than 40 years. She’s also a licensed real estate broker.
She said the secretary of state should be viewed as one of the chief business officers for Missouri.
“I will use my graduate-level degree in business to foster an atmosphere which makes it easy for new businesses to locate and flourish in our state, which naturally brings more jobs to Missouri,” Smith said. “I will also continue to protect consumers from those who are not licensed and should not do business in our state.”
Jason Kander is the current secretary of state. He is leaving the office to run for U.S. Senate.
State Treasurer: Judy Baker vs. Eric Schmitt
Both candidates for treasurer have lawmaking experience in Jefferson City.
Democrat Judy Baker is a former member of the Missouri House of Representatives. She has also worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, she has taught college courses and is a small-business owner. She previously ran for Congress and lieutenant governor.
“The business-minded person in the state of Missouri ought to take a good look at my candidacy because of my management skills, because I have innovated before, because I have grown revenues before for businesses,” she said. “I have met payroll on a regular basis when I was in the private sector and in the public sector.”
Eric Schmitt, a Republican from Glendale, is a current member of the Missouri Senate. His work has included sponsoring a bill that became part of a successful effort to cut Missouri’s top tax rate from 6 percent to 5.5 percent and create a new business income deduction. He also wrote the bill that eliminated the corporate franchise tax.
“As treasurer, I will leverage my role to continue to be a champion for economic growth and prosperity,” Schmitt said. “We need leaders willing to stand up and fight for pro-jobs, pro-growth policies in Missouri every day, and I look forward to doing just that as Missouri’s next treasurer.”
Current State Treasurer Clint Zweifel is leaving office and not running in any elections this year.