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Missouri's Gov. Greitens, other area candidates fatten bank accounts for 2018 contests

Susannah Lohr

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has raised slightly more than $100,000 since April 1 for his official campaign committee, which has taken a back seat in recent months.

Greitens' latest report, filed Monday with the state Ethics Commission, shows that he spent about $127,000 in campaign money during the same period.

The governor has spent far more in money raised by his nonprofit group, A New Missouri, which does not disclose its donors or spending. Greitens' senior advisor Austin Chambers said the nonprofit is paying at least $500,000 for the pro-Greitens TV ad campaign that began last week.

The nonprofit previously has run ads targeting several state senators who have had policy disagreements with the Republican governor.

Greitens' official campaign report shows that he has about $2.38 million in the bank. Most of that money was raised before Amendment 2's new state campaign-donation restrictions were put in place Dec. 8. Under the constitutional amendment, donors can give no more than $2,600 per election to officials and candidates for statewide and legislative offices.

The restrictions don't apply to local and regional officeholders such as St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, a Democrat who is seeking re-election next year. He reported nearly $1.7 million in the bank, after raising $302,000 during the past three months.

Also running is Missouri state Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat who is a prime Republican target. Her campaign bank account has just over $514,000.

Galloway raised nearly $160,000 since April 1, a moderate sum that may encourage Republican rivals.  One potential opponent — state House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Republican from Poplar Bluff — reported $294,000 in the bank. He raised only $3,500 during the past three months.

All Missouri officials and candidates were required to file campaign finance reports by Monday's 5 p.m. deadline.

In Illinois, the campaign-finance reporting deadline was 11:59 p.m. Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, faces a crowd of Democratic rivals who already have declared their candidacies for next year’s contest.

Late Monday, Rauner reported $67.6 million in his campaign fund, raising $20.6 million since April 1. His Democratic challengers reported the following; billionaire JB Pritzker is self-funding and did not file:

  • State Sen. Daniel Biss of Chicago, $2.3 million;
  • Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools Bob Daiber, $10,163;
  • Businessman Chris Kennedy, $959,000;
  • Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawa, $229,000.

Political pundits and experts already predict the 2018 Illinois governor’s race could be among the most expensive in the country. Raumer, who is wealthy, is expected to use his own money to pay for much of his campaign, just as he did in 2014.
Raise money, not spend it

In Missouri, next year’s marquee contests likely will be for state auditor and the U.S. Senate. With the 2018 election more than a year away, the most important figure in those reports is the amount candidates have in the bank.
Their chief task this year is to raise money, and spend as little as possible to ensure that they are well-funded during the campaign.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., whose campaign-finance report was due Saturday under the federal rules, reported $5.1 million in the bank. She provided copies of her official summary documents last week to St. Louis Public Radio.

One of her potential GOP rivals, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, filed his report Monday showing a bank balance of slightly less than $1 million. But Hawley cannot use any of that money for a Senate bid, because of the different campaign-finance rules for Missouri and Congress.

For the most part, Missouri statewide officials not running for re-election in 2018 have raised little so far this year.

State Treasurer Eric Schmitt, a Republican, reported raising only $5,541 during the past three months, but has $214,166 in the bank. Schmitt has been encouraged to run for the Senate. But if he decides to run, he cannot use money from his state campaign.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a Republican, collected only $3,275 in the last three months and has $129,000 in the bank. Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, also a Republican, reported a bank balance of $13,404.

Here’s a rundown of the bank accounts for area members of Congress in Missouri and Illinois, all of whom complied with  Saturday’s campaign-finance deadline:

  • Rep. Ann Wagner, a Republican from Ballwin who has decided not to run for the U.S. Senate, reported the most in the bank of any St. Louis-region member of Congress:  $3.3 million
  • Rep. Lacy Clay, a Democrat from University City: $235,145.77
  • Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, Republican from St. Elizabeth, Mo.: $2.23 million
  • Rep. Jason Smith, Republican from Salem, Mo.: $934,348.72
  • Rep. John Shimkus, Republican from Collinsville, $1.08 million.
  • Rep. Michael Bost, Republican from Murphysboro, Ill. : $344,818.59
  • Rep. Rodney Davis, Republican from Taylorville, Ill.: $801,532

Follow Jo on Twitter: @jmannies

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.