Kinder fends off challenge

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder survived a robust political challenge Tuesday, emerging from a combative Republican primary against state Sen. Brad Lager.

Victory in the primary is a first step toward a rare third term as lieutenant governor for Kinder, who decided to skip an expected gubernatorial campaign. Campaigning between Kinder and Lager, of Savannah, included numerous barbs and critical ads.

Last year, Kinder used personal funds to reimburse the state more than $54,000 for lodging expenses following reports by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he spent hundreds of nights at St. Louis hotels. Kinder said he did so to eliminate any doubts. He also acknowledged frequenting an Illinois strip club in the 1990s after an article in a St. Louis alternative newspaper. Both issues arose during the primary.

The only Missourian who has won three terms as lieutenant governor is Democrat Frank Gaines Harris, who first took office in 1933.

On the Democratic side, former state Auditor Susan Montee emerged from a crowded field of candidates to win her party’s lieutenant governor race. Montee beat seven rivals in a relatively low-key campaign that received scant attention before Election Day. In 2010, she lost a re-election bid as state auditor.

Missouri voters also decided on candidates for secretary of state — a post responsible for overseeing elections, regulating securities and managing the state library and archives. Democrat Robin Carnahan had announced she would not run for re-election, prompting state Rep. Jason Kander to declare his candidacy within minutes.

Kander, of Kansas City, skated through his primary Tuesday against a little-known opponent.

Three Republican state lawmakers batted in the GOP primary for secretary of state. Rep. Shane Schoeller, of Willard, was leading with most of the state’s precincts reporting. Differences among the three Republican lawmakers were relatively limited. For example, each said he would push for a requirement that voters show a photo ID at the polls.

Schoeller is the House speaker pro tem and was first elected to the state Legislature in 2006.

In the attorney general’s campaign, Ed Martin, the former chief of staff to Republican Gov. Matt Blunt, beat the Livingston County prosecuting attorney. Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster was unopposed in his primary.

Also unopposed were the Republican and Democratic candidates for state treasurer. Clint Zweifel, a Democrat, is seeking a second and is being challenged by Republican Cole McNary, a state lawmaker from St. Louis County.

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