Everything that happened on Primary Day 2018

Election Day came and went and so much happened. It's hard to keep up to date with everything, but now you don't have to. Stay informed - keep reading to learn what happened and what it means for us.

1. Stenger 'wins' County Executive primary, but questions remain

  Steve Stenger headshot 





Steve Stenger (D)

 Mark Mantovani Headshot 




 Mark Mantovani (D)

Undoubtedly one of the most watched races in the County was the County Executive Democratic Primary. The County Executive is akin to the mayor of St. Louis - they are the chief executive elected official in charge of 'running' the County.

With 91,891 votes, incumbent Steve Stenger received just enough votes to surpass political newcomer Mark Mantovani's 90,837. A margin of just 1,054 votes or 0.58%. 

What this tells us is clear: every vote matters. 

However, the story does not stop here. According to state laws, if a local race is decided with a 1% margin, then the loser has the right to call for a recount. Mantovani's campaign has released several statements reporting that they do not have any current plans to contest the results. 

The St. Louis County Election Board has 2 weeks to certify their results. This means that the election results that are broadcast the night of the election are unofficial. Once the Election Board audits the election and ensures the numbers are accurate, they can then certify the results to the Missouri Secretary of State. Currently, it is believed that there are enough outstanding ballots that have not been tabulated that could make up the 1,054 vote deficit. Thus, there is a chance that Mantovani can decide to contest once the official results are released. 

Official, certified results will be released on August 21. 

Though Election Day is over, it doesn't seem that the County Executive race is done quite yet.  

2. St. Louis County rang the Bell

Wesley Bell Headshot 
     Wesley Bell (D)
Bob McCulloch Headshot 
Bob McCulloch (D)

St. Louis County will likely be seeing a different County Prosecutor for the first time since 1991. Incumbent Bob McCulloch fell to former Ferguson Councilman, attorney, and Municipal Judge Wesley Bell. Bell is a Ferguson activist that was elected Councilman following the 2015 protests after Mike Brown's death. McCulloch garnered 79,461 votes (43.46%) while Bell was able to get 103,388 (56.54%). Considering no one from any party has mounted a significant challenge to McCulloch since 1991, a 13 point loss was shocking to say the least. 

As the chief legal officer for the County, McCulloch has had the ultimate say in how law and order have been carried out in the County for the past 20 years. While typically not getting a lot of attention across the country, Prosecutors decide which cases go to trial with little checks on their discretion. 

Since Bell will be running unopposed in the November election, it is almost certain that he will be the County's new Prosecutor. 

Both Bell and McCulloch are sons of Police Officers but have very different approaches to policing. So what can we expect with Wesley Bell?

One of his main campaign promises has been appointing special prosecutors in any officer-involved shootings, vowing that he will provide more transparency about the indictment process; Bell has also stated that one of his goals is to reduce the jail population by ending cash bail for nonviolent offenders and switch to a 'risk-based' approach that looks at each case individually; Bell also wants to expand the County's drug courts and diversion programs because he believes that the opioid epidemic has directly or indirectly affected hundreds of thousands of families; and Bell has said the would not pursue the death penalty. 

3. US Senate candidates ease into nominations

 Claire McCaskill Headshot   
  Claire McCaskill (D)

 Josh Hawley pic
      Josh Hawley (R)

With over 80% of the vote, incumbent US Senator Claire McCaskill breezed into her party's nomination for November. Current Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley took the Republican party's nomination with 66% of the vote. It was widely believed that this was going to be the result of the US Senate primary in Missouri. As soon as the races were called for both candidates, they both began what is likely to be a very contested race. Both McCaskill and Hawley have called for debates - though McCaskill wants them in town hall style while Hawley would like a one-on-one debate with no moderators. 

This race has already been and will continue to be in the national spotlight because of Missouri's integral role in deciding which party controls the Senate. President Trump has already endorsed Hawley and, along with several surrogates, will likely be back in Missouri to stump for him throughout the next few months. 

The most recent polls have Hawley up by +.02, in a state that Trump won by almost 20 percentage points.

5. State Auditor race will see 2 women face off in November 

  Saundra McDowell (R)

   Nicole Galloway (D)

Nicole Galloway was appointed as Missouri's State Auditor in 2015 by former Governor Nixon after the death of Tom Schweich. The State Auditor ensures that the government is running efficiently and not spending frivolously. Galloway was not challenged in her primary this August. Galloway and Senator McCaskill, are currently the only Democrats that hold statewide office. This means that the Auditor race will be watched very closely and you can expect much attention to be focused on it. Galloway has amassed about $1 million in campaign funds, leaving her way ahead of her Republican opponent Saundra McDowell. 

Saundra McDowell is a former lawyer for Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft in the Securities Division. Before her time there, McDowell worked as a deputy attorney general prosecuting Medicaid fraud cases. McDowell beat out 4 other Republicans with about a third of the vote on Election Day. Coming up in second was David Wasinger, a lawyer and CPA from Western St. Louis County, who amassed about 25% of the vote. The most surprising fact about McDowell's win was the small amount of money she raised for her entire statewide campaign - $37,000. Wasinger self-funded and raised over $500,000 for his campaign. 

5. Missouri Decidedly Rejects Right-to-Work

Around 937,000 voters (67.5%) statewide came out to reject Right-to-Work (Prop A) on Election Day against about 452,000 (32.5%) voters who voted in favor of it. In an almost 2-1 margin, Prop A opponents were able to overcome the State Legislature's decision to make Missouri a Right-to-Work state through legislation, approved by then-Governor Greitens. 

In Missouri, if you are employed somewhere with a union and are not a member, you do not pay dues but you will have to pay what are called 'agency fees' which are reduced rates non-members pay to cover costs of collective bargaining. Prop A opponents were able to raise $15 million in their effort to defeat the measure - almost 3x the amount pro Prop A groups raised. 

This is reminiscent of the last time this exact scenario happened: in 1978, the Republican controlled State Legislature passed a bill making Missouri a Right to Work state. The unions gathered enough signatures to qualify for a referendum, and 60% of voters came out to ensure Missouri did not become a Right to Work state. This victory has been seen as a win for unions nationwide in a national environment that seems to becoming more and more hostile for unions. 

Union leaders hope that such strong opposition will convince state legislators to not try and legislate Missouri into becoming a Right-to-Work state.

6. Democrats showed up 2x as much as they did last time

605,503 Democratic ballots were cast in the August Primary as opposed to 663,553 Republican ballots. The last time Missouri had a Primary was in 2016. Then, 663,586 Republican ballots were cast vs 319,886 Democratic ballots. That means that for a midterm Primary, which historically sees much lower turnout than a Primary in a Presidential election year, Democrats showed up at almost 2x the rate as they did last time. 

Though this does not necessarily mean it will translate over into the November elections, it is a significant uptick from the last time a similar election took place. 


So, there you have it: the major highlights from the bigger races that took place on Primary Day. In the coming months you can expect profiles of candidates that will appear on your ballot and pre/post election information for the November midterms. 

What issues matter to you? Become a stakeholder and help your community

Muslims for a Better America is currently in the process of developing a survey to send out to all candidates on the ballot in the November 6 election. This survey will ask the candidates to answer a series of questions that relate to issues important to the local Muslim community. To truly represent what the community cares about, WE NEED YOU!

Help us make sure to reflect the actual needs of the community. What issues matter to you? What issues does a candidate HAVE to address before they get your vote? 

Fill out this short survey to let us know what issues you care about the most so we can make sure your representatives give you the answers you need. 

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Saad Amir
Executive Director