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Fraser will seek recount after narrow state Senate loss to Lamping

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 5, 2010 - Democrat Barbara Fraser said Thursday she seek a recount in her hard-fought, razor-thin loss to Republican John Lamping in the 24th District Missouri Senate race.

In complete but unofficial returns, Fraser, who is chair of the St. Louis County Council, lost to Lamping by 176 votes out of more than 60,000 cast. The final totals give Lamping 50.1 percent, compared with 49.9 percent for Fraser.

Reached at her home in University City Wednesday, Fraser said "probably so" when asked if she would seek a recount. She said her campaign is "looking at the numbers very carefully.

"I haven't seen all the numbers. I've seen several versions. I'll be looking at them later this afternoon."

Thursday afternoon, she said her campaign would definitely seek a recount after provisional ballots in the race are counted. She was not sure how many provisional ballots there are but estimated between 200 and 300.

Joe Donahue, Democratic director of elections in St. Louis County, said he did not yet know how many provisional ballots were cast in the 24th District and how many would be valid. The final number is likely to be available next week.

Lamping, a personal finance adviser and brokerage manager who has never held public office, claimed victory late Tuesday night but said his campaign was ready for a recount if necessary.

Thursday night, after Fraser said she would seek the recount, Lamping's campaign lawyer, Jared Craighead, told the Beacon:

"We believe the margin of victory is significant enough that no recount will change the outcome of the election."

He added, "A recount is a waste of everyone's time and resources" because "with modern equipment, the votes don't change much" in a recount.

Even counting the provisionals, said Craighead, "it will be impossible'' for Fraser to win in a recount. Craighead said that usually only one-third of provisionals end up being counted, and predicted not all would be for Fraser.

Lamping, said Craighead, is "focused on doing the people's business."

According to the website Ballotpedia, a candidate in Missouri who loses by less than 1 percent of the total votes cast has the right to seek a recount. The recount request must be filed no later than seven days after the election is certified with the secretary of state. The results of the recount will be certified within 20 days of the receipt of the recount request.

Each candidate in the 24th District race criticized the other during the campaign, with Lamping hitting hard against votes that Fraser has made in the County Council and during her time in the Missouri House.

Asked whether she thought her campaign should have struck back more strongly with negative ads against Lamping, Fraser hesitated, then replied:

"I think our campaign was one of integrity and really was a very positive message about my experience and my effectiveness. I'm proud of that. I'm very proud of the way my team handled the campaign."

Financially, the latest campaign reports showed that Lamping had raised far more overall -- $683,535 compared to Fraser's $568,295 -- and he was able to conserve most of it for the general election because he didn't have the spirited primary that Fraser had to fight against fellow Democrat Sam Page.

Toward the end of the campaign, Fraser got support -- financially and otherwise -- from Gov. Jay Nixon. She also was endorsed by retiring Sen. Joan Bray, who had to give up the 24th District seat because of term limits.

After Tuesday's election, Republicans hold 25 of 34 seats in the Missouri Senate and 106 of 163 seats in the House, according to the Associated Press.

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969 by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the Beacon, where he reported primarily on education. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct professor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County with their spoiled Bichon, Teddy. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren. Dale reported for St. Louis Public Radio from 2013 to 2016.
Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.