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Greitens, Koster spent close to $60 million in Missouri's hard-fought contest for governor

Eric Greitens, left, and Chris Koster
Carolina Hidalgo and Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Governor-elect Eric Greitens appears to have set a record as he outraised and outspent all comers in his successful bid for Missouri’s highest office.  He collected about $31 million and spent about $29 million, combined, in this year's primary and general-election contests.

But the final campaign reports, filed Thursday, show that Greitens, a Republican, was actually outspent during the three-month general election fight by his losing Democratic rival --  Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

Koster spent about $24.89 million in his battle against Greitens, who reported spending $18.68 million in the general election.  Their tallies don’t include the millions of dollars spent by outside groups on each man’s behalf.

Overall, Koster reported raising $28.8 million, but spent little of it during the primary. Koster’s report shows that he donated close to $1.3 million to others, mainly the Missouri Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, Greitens earlier spent just over $10 million in his combative summer primary against three other Republicans.

Greitens' tally in his report only includes contributions through December 3. It does not include the $2.3 million in large donations that he reported receiving on Wednesday, before the new campaign-finance donation limits kicked in.

Other statewide candidates raise far less

Koster and Greitens’ combined $60 million bank accounts overwhelmed all of the state’s general-election candidates for other statewide offices.

All told, the eight major-party candidates for lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer raised and spent less than the two combatants for governor.

In all of those contests, the Republicans won.

Credit Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Josh Hawley

The state’s race for Missouri attorney general was the runner-up, when it came to spending. The victor, Republican Josh Hawley, a law professor, reported spending just over $4.92 million. That compared to $3.59 million for Democrat Teresa Hensley, the former Cass County prosecutor who lost to Hawley by 17 percentage points.

In the battle for state treasurer, Republican state Sen. Eric Schmitt spent more than four times as much as the losing Democrat, former state Rep. Judy Baker. Schmitt spent just under $3 million, while Baker spent only $660,707.

Jay Ashcroft, the GOP winner for secretary of state, spent about $1.63 million. That was more than three times the $486,996 spent by his Democratic rival, former TV newscaster Robin Smith.

Money-wise, the closest contest was for lieutenant governor, where Democrat Russ Carnahan spent slightly more than the Republican victor, Mike  Parson.  Carnahan, a former St. Louis congressman, spent about $1.6 million, compared to $1.28 million for Parson, a state senator.

Despite his lack of success on Nov. 8, Carnahan already has set up a new campaign committee for a possible statewide bid in 2020.

This year's statewide money-raising and spending tallies are particularly noteworthy because the Nov. 8 statewide election could be the last in Missouri without campaign-donation limits. Amendment 2, which is now in the courts, restricts donations to $2,600 per candidate per election.

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