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Political Panel Analyzes Tuesday’s Primary Results

Proposition B asks to voters to allow their local city or county to continue collecting sales tax on cars bought out of state
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio
Those headed to the polls in St. Louis in 2012 will be voting in an election run by a different St. Louis Board of Elections. Three new members were named today by Gov. Jay Nixon. (via Flickr/ Daniel Morrison)

The results from Tuesday's primary are in. St. Louis Public Radio political reporters Jo Mannies and Marshall Griffin and University of Missouri–St. Louis political science professor Dave Robertson joined us Wednesday to talk about the election's outcomes, including the St. Louis County executive race and ballot measures.

St. Louis County Executive

Steve Stenger defeated incumbent Charlie Dooley in the Democratic primary; Rick Stream defeated Tony Pousosa in the Republican primary. Stenger and Stream will face off in November’s general election.

Stenger’s win, in particular, caught some by surprise.

“I don’t know if I’d say it was an upset, but it definitely was a blow-out,” Mannies said. Stenger won with 66 percent of the countywide vote. “I think that once Dooley gets over the shock, he’ll probably sleep pretty well. There (were) different things that maybe he could have done, but would it have changed the outcome? Probably not.”

Robertson agreed: “I was surprised by the margin. I didn’t think it would be that big.”

In his concession speech, Dooley said he was ready to move on, and wanted to be helpful to the next executive.

“Dooley or his advisers, even amid the shock, decided to take the high road and to reach out to Stenger,” Mannies said of Dooley’s concession speech. “This is something that’s very important for the Democrats.”

Looking to the general election, Mannies said Stenger needs to start building support.

“Labor and the African-American community are two key pillars in the Democratic party; Stenger is going to need that,” she said. “St. Louis County remains a Democratic county. As long as the Democrats don’t fight too much, they should be in a stronger position going into November.”

Stream already has said that he will not “go negative” in the general election; the Democratic campaign had its mud-slinging moments in the primary.

Statehouse reporter Griffin, who has covered Stream in the Missouri House, said that doesn’t mean Stream will shy from a fight.

“If things do get tough, Rick Stream is not afraid of rolling up his sleeves and hammering back verbally if necessary,” Griffin said.

“Rick Stream may not want to go negative, but his supporters will,” Mannies predicted.

Robertson said Stenger will continue to portray himself as St. Louis County’s true agent for change.

“Stream’s script is pretty clear: You want change? Here’s real change — change the parties,” Robertson said. “I think that’s a very simple, clear message. It’s the best message he’s got, and he’ll hammer it.”

Amendment 7

The “transportation tax” amendment, which for 10 years would have raised Missouri’s sales tax by 0.75 percent, and barred lawmakers from instituting tolls or raising the state gas tax, was soundly defeated Tuesday by roughly 58 percent to 41 percent

The Missouri Department of Transportation held a news conference Wednesday morning. What’s next is unclear, Griffin said.

State transportation officials said they tried to communicate the needs, but “either Missouri voters didn’t understand what they were getting, or they did understand it and said ‘we don’t think a 0.75 sales tax is worth it,’ ” Griffin said.

Without a moratorium on a gas tax, “the truckers lost big,” Mannies said.

The federal Highway Trust Fund also faces funding trouble, which some believe may have influenced Missouri voters.

“We’re looking at another crisis about funding roads at the federal level while we’re looking at what the legislature has decided to do or not decided to do about funding Missouri roads,” Robertson said.

Amendment 1

The “right to farm” amendment was approved by fewer than 3,000 votes Tuesday night, which qualifies it for a recount. 

“I would be very surprised if we did not see one,” Griffin said.

Counties must officially certify their results before a recount can begin, Mannies said.

County by county, the right to farm amendment breaks down similarly to the 2010 puppy mill vote, Griffin said.

“The margin of victory was way closer than it was four years ago when it was about puppy mills,” he said. The puppy mill measure was not an amendment.

What the amendment means remains unclear.

“This amendment was to reduce government regulations on farming activities,” Mannies said. “There have been some who actually say that marijuana growers can go to court and say ‘Hey, this is saying that we have a right to farm, so you can’t say that we can’t grow marijuana.’ There will be a lot of court cases on one.”

Amendment 5

The right to bear arms amendment, which expands Second Amendment rights in Missouri, making the right “unalienable,” won by a 61-39 percent margin

“There will probably be some court cases about this because many see this amendment as the first step to allowing open-carry,” Mannies said. “You’ll see some court fights about this, about what it means.”

The amendment also protects the right to possess ammunition. Ammunition regulation was part of a national proposal after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., Robertson said.

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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