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Hundreds flock to capital for first-day filing, including crowd of Democrats for lieutenant governor

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 28, 2012 - Three Democratic contenders for lieutenant governor — Susan Montee, Judy Baker and Sara Lampe — had agreed not to discuss what took place during Monday’s closed-door meeting likely aimed at encouraging one or more to drop out.

Tuesday’s first day of candidate filing in Jefferson City provided the results of their talk: All three filed — and for the same office.

Montee was the last of the trio, doing so shortly after noon.

Montee, a former state auditor who lost a re-election bid in 2010, said she’s the best qualified because she is the only one to hold statewide office. She also has the endorsement of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.

Baker — a former state representative from Columbia, Mo. — said she has the best chance of winning statewide, citing what she considered strong vote tallies during her unsuccessful 2008 bid for the old 9th District congressional seat in mid-Missouri

Lampe, a state legislator from Springfield, Mo., and the first to file, said in a recent interview that she has a strong record of appealing to moderate Republicans. She also cites support from urban African-American legislators in St. Louis.

All three emphasized their backgrounds helping military veterans; the lieutenant govenor’s stipulated roles include being an advocate for veterans and the elderly.

The three were soon joined by the surprise afternoon entry of former state Rep. Fred Kratky, D-St. Louis, as another Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.

The four were among hundreds of candidates today who packed Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s office complex west of the state Capitol for the traditional parade of first-day filers.

Over snacks provided by the League of Women voters, candidates for statewide, congressional or legislative offices waited patiently in line for their chance to officially file to appear on the August primary ballot. Those victors will then compete in November.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican seeking a third term, said he was heartened that the lines for Republican first-day filers appeared to be much longer than those for Democrats — indicating, he said, that 2012 could be another good year for the GOP.

UPDATE: All told, 394 candidates filed in Jefferson City on Tuesday. Of that tally, 242 were Republicans, 149 were Democrats, two were Libertarians, and one was from the Constitution Party.

The lieutenant governor's race attracted the largest bloc of candidates: 11.

Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, was among the last to file on Tuesday, showing up at 4:19 p. m.  Still he will be the first Democrat listed for governor on the August primary ballot. End of update

That's because first-day filing includes the traditional lottery, put in place in the early 1990s, in which candidates each choose a number that determines their ballot position. The system was put in place to eliminate the old practice of candidates, or their surrogates, standing in line for months in order to snag a top spot on the ballot.

Instead, early first-day filers stand in lines for a few hours, at most. The lines usually have disappeared by early afternoon, allowing some candidates to run in and file within minutes.

After today, all filers will be listed in the order that they showed up to submit their documents.

UPDATE: The most notable no-show on Tuesday was U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who opted to wait for another day to file. Filing will continue through March 27. End update

Uncertainty in the air

Today’s festive events were tempered by the various pending state Supreme Court decisions that could change the boundaries for the congressional seats or the Missouri House.

The boundaries for the 34 state Senate seats also are in limbo because a new map does not officially go into effect until March 9, and requires another vote from the bipartisan commission that approved it. As a result, a number of state Senate candidates — and incumbents — are waiting to file until the map is final. 

Some also are lobbying for a new one. They include state Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, who is upset with the new map because it makes his district far more Democratic. He is waiting to file — but not one of the Democratic contenders, former state Rep. Sue Schoemehl, who showed up for first-day filing.

Schoemehl exuded pleasure over the new map’s boundaries, but emphasized that she had planned to file under an earlier map, that had fewer Democratic voters.

UPDATE: State Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, also has been upset with her situation because the new map moves her 7th District from St. Louis County to the Kansas City area.

Today, Cunningham filed for the 7th anyway. The state law governing redistricting does not require her to reside in the new 7th as long as she lives in the current 7th.

End of update

Other noteworthy filings on the first day included:

  • St. Louis lawyer Hope Whitehead is making a second try at ousting state Rep. Karla May, D-St. Louis. May had ousted Whitehead in 2010. “It’s war,’’ said Whitehead, also a Democrat.
  • Ruth Ehresman quit her job Monday as director of budget policy with the Missouri Budget Project, so she could file today as a candidate for the state House in St. Louis’ 78th District.
  • State Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, is term-limited and leaves office at the end of 2012. He filed today as a candidate for 35th Circuit judge.
  • A number of state Democratic lawmakers from the St. Louis area signed up to run against each other. For instance, both Reps. Susan Carlson, D-University City, and Stacey Newman, filed to run in the 87th District. Reps. Sharon Pace, D-Northwoods, and Churie Spreng, D-Florissant, signed up to run in the 74th District, Reps. Rochelle Walton-Gray, D-Black Jack, and Sylvester Taylor, D-Black Jack, filed in the 75th District, and Reps. Mary Nichols, D-Maryland Heights, and Rep. Eileen McGeoghegan, D-St. Ann, will be running in the 72nd District.
  • St. Louis lawyer Ed Martin, a Republican candidate for attorney general, was buoyed that he snagged one of the lowest lottery numbers — 24 — which could put him at the top of the GOP ballot for that office in the August primary.

Martin quipped that his only concern was that “I may have peaked too soon.”

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.