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Koster edges out Kinder in raising big bucks in March

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 30, 2011 - For all the attention paid to the $300,000 in big donations collected last weekend by Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, another statewide official has outraised him this month when it comes to corralling large donors.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat expected to seek re-election in 2012, has quietly collected more than $323,000 just in March from contributors who each gave more than $5,000 apiece.

That's slightly above the month's tally of $320,000 so far for Kinder, a Republican who is expected next year to challenge Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat.

(In contrast, Nixon collected only $36.000 this month from over $5,000 donors, out of more than $140,000 raised in March overall.)

The totals are calculated from the Missouri Ethics Commission web site, updated daily, of candidate donations greater than $5,000. Candidates and officeholders are required to report those contributions within 48 hours.

Kinder has collected the largest individual donations for the month -- $100,000 apiece from Ethelmae Humphreys and her son, David Humphreys. Both are executives with TAMKO Building Products Inc

Kinder also collected $50,000 from TAMKO consultant Sarah Atkins of suburban Washington D.C., and $25,000 from August A. Bush III, the retired former chief of Anheuser Busch Cos. Inc. before it was sold to the Belgium firm InBev.

Kinder has signaled he plans to announce his 2012 plans later this year. Such large donations often are used as a signal that the recipient has locked down some of the party's biggest givers -- and potential rivals should consider running for something else.

Koster's large donations also may be intended to give pause to anyone, particularly Republicans, considering a challenge. So far, Koster -- who switched parties in 2007 -- has no announced rival in either party.

Koster's biggest donation is $75,000 he received March 13 from businessman James E. Stowers, founder of American Century Investments and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, which supports stem cell research. Stowers was a major donor for Koster in 2008, when he won a combative Democratic primary and went on to win the attorney general post that fall.

But aside from Stowers, most of Koster's other major donors this month were lawyers, including:

---$50,000 from Simmons Attorneys at Law, a firm based in East Alton, Il.;

--$25,000 apiece from Independence, Mo. attorney Kenneth McClain, and the Kansas City law firms of Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP and Davis, Ketchmark & McCreight P.C.;

-- $15,000 from the Kansas City law firm of Dollar, Burns & Becker LC;

-- $12,500 apiece from lawyer Robert Blitz of Frontenac, and St. Louis lawyer James P. Holloran.

The notable non-lawyer exceptions for Koster is $10,000 he received from AmerenUE's political action committee and $25,001 from RedCard Systems LLC, a private Clayton firm that specializes in technology and document processing for healthcare firms and insurance companies.

By the way, the large donations for Koster and Kinder are in addition to any smaller contributions they've received ($5,000 or less), which don't have to be reported until April 15.

Both major political parties, allies and potential rivals of Koster and Kinder will no doubt be eager to check out those overall numbers  as well.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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