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Republican-defector Davis returns to old political home for primary

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 8, 2012 - Even though she's running as the Constitution Party's candidate for lieutenant governor, former Republican state Rep. Cynthia Davis returned to her roots Tuesday to vote in the non-binding Republican presidential primary.

Davis, the former chair of the St. Charles County GOP, declined to say for whom she voted. But she offered a strong hint by showing up at Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum's victory party Tuesday night at the St. Charles County convention center.

Davis said she was ecstatic about Santorum's resounding victory over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Davis defended her decision to take a GOP ballot by noting that the Constitution Party did not have any presidential candidates on its Missouri presidential-primary ballot.

"I think that it's important to vote -- at least I got my $21 worth," said Davis on Wednesday, alluding to the primary's $7 million statewide cost, even though the Republican portion did not allocate any delegates. She also said it was an "honor" for a presidential candidate to come to St. Charles County.

As for Santorum, Davis said she has often found common cause with the former Pennsylvania senator, who has made opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage key planks of his campaign.

"I'm a political observer and I'm a family-values champion," Davis said in an interview. "And when I see somebody else who champions family values win in Missouri, that's good news for me. Because that means come next November, people are going to want a family/economic policy candidate."

Davis added that Santorum's victory is "going to make the country talk about values" and "the importance of having a family platform -- a pro-marriage platform."

"That is what defines Santorum -- that is the only point that has distinguished him in a big way from the others," Davis said. "Am I wrong? You tell me. You've got to admit, he's the family guy -- totally. And I'm the family lady -- I'm the family lieutenant governor choice."

Davis contended that the nation's social-values debate "is driving the economic crisis."

"Think about this," Davis said. "It's the escalation of spending that has tarnished our ability to be prosperous. OK and what's driving the spending: the breakdown of the family more than anything."

The race of lieutenant governor is quickly becoming Missouri's most crowded statewide contest. In addition to incumbent Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, the Republican contenders include state Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah, Wentzville attorney Mike Carter and, most likely, also state Sen. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville.

The Democratic field thus far includes former state Auditor Susan Montee, former state Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, state Rep. Sara Lampe, D-Springfield, and state conservation commissioner Becky Plattner.

Davis contended that Santorum's victory could trickle down to her own third-party effort.

"Missouri just proved a point that we care about family, we care about economic policies that Rick Santorum is in favor of," Davis said. "And I'm the closest match to what you'll find in terms of supporting the bedrock of our society."

At the victory party, Davis also confronted another blast from her political past. Santorum's warm-up speaker was state Sen. Scott Rupp, R-Wentzville, who defeated Davis in a 2010 primary. She unsuccessfully sought to unseat Rupp by contending that he wasn't conservative enough.

But on Tuesday, Rupp and Davis may have been on the same side.

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.