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story.lead_photo.caption Auditor Candidates

Even in a precinct-by-precinct break-down, there were few surprises from last week's elections.

In the unofficial numbers provided by the County Clerk's office last week, the controversial right-to-work proposal, Proposition A — which was rejected statewide by a two-to-one margin — lost in Cole County by only a 44.9 percent "yes" to 55.1 percent "no" vote and was supported by voters in six of the county's 29 precincts.

Incumbent Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson had more support in areas outside of Jefferson City, where he won nine of the 14 precincts and the absentee vote. But GOP primary winner Locke Thompson captured the other five non-city precincts and all 14 Jefferson City precincts, to defeat Richardson by a narrow 51.62- to 48.38-percent margin.

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In the race for 60th District House seat, Democrat winner Sara Michael carried 13 of the 15 precincts in the district, plus the absentee vote, and Republican winner Dave Griffith also won his nomination in 13 of the 15 precincts, plus the absentees. In the three-way GOP race, Jane Beetem won the other precinct.

In the Cole County portion of the House 59th District race, GOP winner Rudy Veit won 14 of the 15 precincts, plus the absentees, while challenger Rik Combs, who came in third overall, captured one precinct. Challenger Karen Leydens came in second in the five-way race, but didn't win the majority of votes in any single precinct.

Nicole Thompson, who won the Democratic nomination for the seven-county 6th District state Senate seat, was the winner in all 29 Cole County precincts.

Likewise, Saundra McDowell, of Jefferson City, who won the four-person race for the GOP state auditor's nomination, carried every precinct in Cole County.

She now faces incumbent Democrat Nicole Galloway, of Columbia; Libertarian Sean O'Toole, of Kansas City; Green Party candidate Don Fitz, of St. Louis, and Constitution Party candidate Jacob Luetkemeyer, of California, in the Nov. 6 general election.

Galloway, a former Boone County Treasurer, was appointed to the auditor's office in 2015 after former Auditor Tom Schweich died.

Both women are running statewide for the first time, although Galloway said the campaigning is similar to a county race — except for the scale.

McDowell won a race Tuesday that attracted about 591,685 voters — 76,287 more total voters than Galloway's unopposed primary contest received — but neither woman thinks people should read too much into those numbers.

Both women told the News Tribune last week they expect what Galloway called "a spirited" campaign, which will look at each candidate's qualifications and goals for the office.

"I am a CPA (and) a certified fraud examiner," Galloway said. "I have done audits in the private sector and in the public sector, looking for compliance with accounting standards, with state law, (and) improving cyber security at every level of government."

McDowell said her being a lawyer is a better qualification for the job than being a CPA, and she pointed to several successful state auditors who came into the job with only a legal background — including Republicans Kit Bond, John Ashcroft and Tom Schweich, and Democrat Claire McCaskill.

McDowell also pointed to her work in the attorney general's office, where she worked on Medicaid fraud cases, and in the secretary of state's office, where she was leading investigators "looking into the complaints on investment advisors and broker-dealers, and making them pay back money — and if we found fraud, we prosecuted them."

She said her work helped recover "over $10 million of both taxpayers' funds and individual investment funds."

Galloway said: ""I am proud of what we have accomplished. We've identified about $300 million in government waste, abuse and mismanagement.

"Over 35 criminal counts have been brought against officials because of my audits."

Both agreed the auditor has to work with law enforcement officials when problems are found in local government operations that appear to violate criminal laws.

McDowell said, in conversations with county officials as she was campaigning in the primary, she's been told there are "a lot of problems with" Galloway's office and the auditors who work for her.

"Out of every county I went to, unfortunately, only two counties told me positive feedback about the state auditor's office," McDowell said. "Every other county had negative criticisms about the office — and a lot of it was similar in nature, including, "the auditors weren't even properly trained (and) didn't know why they were asking for the documents they were asking for, they couldn't answer questions, and they didn't even know the difference between a first class county and a third-class county."

Galloway said four independent reviews found no problems with the state auditor office operations.

And, she said, she's kept office operations under-budget, returning money to the state each year.

Galloway said voters should have "serious questions about (McDowell's) ability to lead the state's fiscal watchdog agency," because McDowell has a "poor track record of managing her personal and professional finances."

Galloway's campaign pointed to several legal documents showing McDowell and her husband owe more than $55,000 in lease and utility payments for a home they had in Springfield from 2014-15.

In a statement released on her Facebook page and through the Missouri Republican Party, McDowell didn't address the specifics of the Galloway charge, but said: "My husband and I did struggle to make ends meet earlier in our careers, like so many Americans did under President Obama's stagnating economy. We have made every effort possible to pay off the debts that we owe, and we will continue to do so.

"The attacks on my private life perpetrated by my opponent are wildly inappropriate. This race should be about the issues, not personal attacks, and I'm disappointed in my opponent for immediately making it about the latter."

But Galloway's campaign said Saturday the McDowells agreed to the lease-purchase arrangement on the Springfield home in December 2014, even as they were shutting down their law firm.

"Whatever financial difficulties she had faced early in her career certainly didn't dissuade her from committing to the purchase of a lavish home valued at more than half a million dollars," the Galloway campaign said in a Saturday afternoon news release.

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