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Stenger Outspent Dooley To Win But Big Spending Failed To Help Transportation Tax

Parth Shah, St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated 5:37 p.m. Thurs., Sept. 4)

In political campaigns, the biggest spenders often win. But not always.

That ended up being a major theme in Missouri's Aug. 5 primary for which the final campaign-finance reports -- due Thursday -- showed stark contrasts.

St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger, now the Democratic nominee for county executive, heads into his fall campaign with roughly $285,000 in the bank and an even larger debt.

The final campaign-finance reports for the Aug. 5 primary show that Stenger outraised and outspent County Executive Charlie Dooley, who lost badly to Stenger.

Stenger, who won 66 percent of the votes, raised roughly $2.16 million – about $600,000 more than Dooley, who collected $1.5 million.

Stenger outspent Dooley by almost as much: $1.9 million to Dooley’s 1.4 million.

Dooley ended his campaign in the black, with $795 in the bank as of Aug. 30. Stenger reported $284,870 still on hand, but he also reported a debt of roughly $320,000, most of which he owed to himself.

Rick Stream speaks to his supporters after winning the GOP nomination for St. Louis County executive.
Credit Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio intern
Rick Stream

Stenger faces Republican Rick Stream on Nov. 4.

Stream reported that he had $228,500 in the bank, and no debt.

Stream raised $465,294, and spent $236,888 in his successful bid for the Republican nomination.  He handily defeated Tony Pousosa, an alderman from Green Park, who reported that he raised $44,783 and spent $24,903.  Pousosa's report showed no money in the bank, and no debt.

Amendment 7's big spending meant little

Meanwhile, the biggest spender on Aug. 5 was arguably the biggest loser.

Backers for the proposed statewide transportation sales tax, officially known as Amendment 7, spent $4.2 million in their failed bid to persuade Missouri voters to approve a ¾-cent increase in the state’s sales tax for 10 years. The money had been earmarked for highways, bridges and mass transit.

Amendment 7 still lost badly at the polls. The winning opposition group, called Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions, spent just over $23,000. That was 1/183 as much as the losers.

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