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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 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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