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On the Trail, an occasional column by St. Louis Public Radio political reporter Jason Rosenbaum, takes an analytical look at politics and policy across Missouri.

Kehoe continues to lead in fundraising in the race to succeed Parson as Missouri governor

Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe answers a question during the GOP's Lincoln Days governor candidate forum in Kansas City.
Dominick Williams
Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe answers a question during the GOP's Lincoln Days governor candidate forum in Kansas City.

Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe continued to dominate his Republican and Democratic gubernatorial opponents in fundraising, taking in more than $2.3 million between his campaign committee and a supportive political action committee during the recently completed quarter.

It comes as Kehoe is trying to use his financial advantage to gain momentum against Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who has led in most voter polls.

Between Jan. 1 and March 31, Kehoe’s campaign took in more than $556,000. The American Dream PAC, which is supporting Kehoe’s gubernatorial bid, raised more than $1.8 million.

State Sen. Bill Eigel’s campaign committee and PAC took in more than $572,000 — while Ashcroft’s combined campaign and PAC totals accounted for around $509,000. Kehoe’s PAC and campaign account have more cash on hand, around $6.2 million, than Ashcroft and Eigel’s combined.

Ashcroft, whose campaign and PAC raised less than Eigel's, has led in most public opinion polls — including February’s SLU/YouGov poll. But Steven Rogers said last month on the Politically Speaking Hour on St. Louis on the Air that a large number of undecided voters in the GOP primary could prompt a shift in the coming months.

“A lot of voters may know that they're probably going to vote for a Republican or Democrat, but they aren't quite sure about the candidates or who's running or necessarily have strong opinions about them,” Rogers said.

On the Democratic side, Springfield businessman Mike Hamra’s campaign brought in more than $511,000 during the most recent fundraising quarter — which includes a $250,000 loan. Along with a supportive PAC, Hamra raised a total of more than $689,000 during the quarter.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, took in more than $243,000 to her campaign committee, while a supportive PAC brought in more than $39,000. She has a total of $390,000 of cash on hand between her campaign and PAC accounts. Hamra has more than a million dollars in the bank between his campaign and supportive PAC.

Similarly to the GOP race, a large number of Democratic voters in the SLU/YouGov poll, nearly 66%, are unsure whom they’d vote for in the party’s gubernatorial race. Quade got about 21% in that poll, compared to 5% for Hamra.

St. Louis County prosecutor and Democratic candidate for the 2024 Senate race Wesley Bell holds a fundraising event on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, at a volunteer’s home in Glendale, Mo. The small group of supporters were filled with people who knew Bell, and who were seeking information about how they could assist with his campaign.
Tristen Rouse
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell emerged as the fundraising leader in Missouri's 1st Congressional District contest.

Bush and Bell stock up for August in 1st District

The Democratic candidates in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District are stocking up for what will likely be a decisive showdown in August.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell brought in around $960,000 and has more than $1.14 million in the bank for his Democratic primary bid against U.S. Rep. Cori Bush.

Bush took in around $677,000 and has about $528,622 in the bank after spending more than $364,000.

Former state Sen. Maria Chappelle Nadal raised around $14,930 and has a little more than $14,000 in the bank.

The race between Bell and Bush is getting national attention, as some observers have said it could be a referendum on the incumbent’s criticism of Israel — and the sponsorship of a cease-fire resolution in Congress. Bell recently received endorsements from a number of political action committees that support Israel, including the Democratic Majority for Israel.

U.S. Representative Cori Bush, D-St. Louis County, speaks during a press conference about Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) on Friday, April 5, 2024, at St. Cin Park in Hazelwood. Members of Congress are calling on Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, to vote on RECA when the House of Representatives returns to session.
Eric Lee
St. Louis Public Radio
U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-St. Louis County, speaks during a press conference about Radiation Exposure Compensation Act on April 5 in Hazelwood.

However, neither Bush nor Bell think their opinions on the Israel-Hamas war will determine the August Democratic primary — where the winner will be heavily favored to prevail in November.

Bush and Bell said voters are more interested in local issues.

“There are a lot of folks in our district who are more concerned with gun violence at home,” Bell said. “They're concerned with the crime rates at home. They're concerned with the need for improved schools and improved roads, and all of those things at home that are impacting our region.”

Bush said many of her constituents come to seek help regarding immigration and housing issues — though she added that groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee want to make the contest about her criticism of Israel.

“We also do support our Palestinian community and our Muslim community and our Arab community,” Bush said. “We support our Jewish community. We want to resolve this. But resolve means that we save lives or resolve means that there has to be a cease-fire, so no one is killed.”

Chappelle-Nadal, who said she supports providing aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, has emphasized her advocacy for people who became sick because of radioactive waste exposure.

“And so that's what people are looking for is a representative who is going to be responsive, a representative who is going to listen and a representative, frankly, that's going to do the hard work and understand the issues,” Chappelle-Nadal said.

Former state Sen. Bob Onder speaks at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024 in St. Charles. Onder is running for lieutenant governor, but has been linked to the 3rd Congressional District contest.
Former state Sen. Bob Onder speaks at a press conference on Jan. 5 in St. Charles.

Onder self-funds in 3rd District battle against Schaefer

Two former Missouri state senators are running to replace U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer in Missouri’s 3rd Congressional District — which includes portions of the St. Louis area and central Missouri.

Former Sen. Bob Onder loaned himself $500,000 and raised close to $200,000 — which means he has about $693,000 of cash on hand for the GOP primary. Former Sen. Kurt Schaefer raised around $111,000 and has about $110,000 of cash on hand.

Onder and Schaefer look to be the best-funded candidates in the 3rd District contest. Onder has the ability to self-fund, as he did in his 2008 race against Luetkemeyer. And Schaefer received Luetkemeyer’s endorsement — which could be helpful if the St. Elizabeth congressman, who is known as a prolific fundraiser, helps raise money on Schaefer’s behalf.

A third major candidate, state Rep. Justin Hicks, R-St. Charles County, took in more than $17,000 and had more than $41,000 in the bank after loaning himself $27,900.

The 3rd District race received a shakeup when state Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, pulled the plug on her bid and switched to the secretary of state’s contest.

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