Area state senators have amassed large bank accounts for re-election bids
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 19, 2012 - Their electoral battlefields may once again be in flux, but incumbent state senators in St. Louis County are building up financial firewalls in their bids for re-election.
The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesdaythrew out a new Senate district map constructed by a panel of appellate judges, and has ordered that Gov. Jay Nixon restart the map-drawing process from the beginning.
But regardless of what their districts eventually look like, several incumbent lawmakers have built a financial advantage in re-election bids.
Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, has nearly $145,608.09 of cash on hand. That comes after raising $155,018.22 and spending $19,912.54 during the fourth quarter of 2011.
(Cunningham's money includes a generous sumfrom wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield.)
Up until the court ruling, Cunningham had planned to run in a new 27th District that encompassed western St. Louis County and northern Jefferson County. She currently represents the 7th District, which encompasses parts of western and central St. Louis County. So far, Cunningham has had no announced opposition this fall.
Another incumbent without any declared competition is Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale. He pulled in $126,736 during the last fundraising quarterand spent $22,455.20. He has $440,577.89 of cash on hand.
Schmitt -- one of the chief sponsors of a legislative plan to lure more international cargo to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport -- had briefly considered a run for lieutenant governor. He droppedit when Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a fellow Republican, opted to run for re-election.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Jim Lembke -- a Lemay Republican who narrowly won his seat four years ago -- continued to outpace a potential rival for another term in the Senate. Lembke gathered up $42,194.43 during the last fundraising quarter. After spending $8,825.38, Lembke has $102,368.04 on hand.
That total is far more than former state Rep. Sue Schoemehl, a Democrat from Oakville who announced a bid against Lembke last year. Schoemehl brought in $5,570 during the last fundraising quarterand spent $6,102. She has $17,006.87 of cash on hand.
North County Scramble
Two Democrats -- former state Rep. Gina Walsh and Florissant resident Redditt Hudson -- are angling to replace term-limited state Sen. Tim Green, D-Spanish Lake.
Walsh, a Bellefontaine Neighbors resident, raised $47,074.01 during last fundraising quarter. She has $121,729.23 on hand after spending $4,598.81.
An insulator contractor, Walsh received thousands of dollars from union political action committees. According to her campaign website, Walsh is an active member of Asbestos Workers Local No. 1.
Hudson -- a Florissant resident who serves as a program associate for the American Civil Liberties aUnion of Eastern Missouri -- raised $8,399.94 and spent $7,612.94 during same time period. He has $1,213.86 of cash on hand.
Jason Rosenbaum, a freelance journalist in St. Louis, covers local and state government and politics.