Missouri 2022 primary election: St. Louis area voter guide

On Aug. 2, Missouri voters will head to the polls and to select candidates who will carry their party banners into the general election this fall. In many races, the nominee of the August primary will face little to no opposition in November, making this upcoming race a decisive one. 

5 On Your Side has identified the most hotly contested and consequential races in the St. Louis region and reached out to the campaigns to find out where the candidates stand on nearly a dozen issues important to voters. We reached out to all candidates in competitive races with publicly available contact information.  Each candidate in a given race was provided the same set of questions. You will find their answers in both print and video in our Decision 2022 Voter Guide. Uncontested primary races are not listed.  

How to vote

Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Those who are in line by 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote. Before election day, you should check your voter registration and polling place, as well as research what races and issues will appear on your ballot.

Sen. Roy Blunt retires

Sen. Roy Blunt’s retirement leaves an open seat in the U.S. Senate, and in a midterm election year that will decide the balance of power in Washington, D.C., dozens of elected officials and political newcomers are lining up for a chance to replace him.   

Republican Primary

Eric Greitens

When the former Governor of Missouri resigned his office under investigation in 2018, he avoided testifying under oath about allegations of campaign finance violations and sexual misconduct. Since then, the disgraced governor and former Democrat has tacked hard to the right, fully embraced Donald Trump, promoted false claims of a stolen election in 2020, and sought to revive his political career. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) has warned primary voters not to back Greitens because his baggage could bury him in a general election matchup and potentially cost the GOP a Senate seat in the fall. Greitens enjoys staunch support from a base of GOP loyalists who brush off questions about his personal character, including more recent allegations of abuse from his ex-wife that came to light during a custody battle. 

Greitens drew national attention and widespread rebuke for a provocative campaign video where he enlisted his supporters to go “RINO hunting,” suggesting political violence against his opponents. He later claimed it was satire. Greitens has refused to appear on a debate stage with his GOP rivals, and his campaign ignored multiple offers to answer the same template of questions for this voter guide.

Vicky Hartzler

U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO 4th District) won her first election to Congress in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and flipped a blue seat to red as Republican voters registered their displeasure with the incumbent President Barack Obama. Now, with Senator Josh Hawley’s endorsement, Hartzler hopes she can navigate a crowded primary field and move up to the Senate as Republican voters prepare to rally against President Joe Biden’s agenda in the midterms this November. 

During her decade-plus on Capitol Hill, Hartzler has served on the House Armed Services Committee and House Agriculture Committee. Her campaign website features a photo of her flashing the “thumbs up” sign with former President Donald Trump, though Trump recently poured cold water on her Senate bid, saying, “I don’t think she has what it takes.”

Billy Long

U.S. Rep. Billy Long (R-MO 7th District) won his first election to Congress in 2010, replacing former Congressman Roy Blunt. Now, Long hopes to follow in Blunt’s footsteps yet again, though public polling shows the straight-talking, cowboy hat-wearing rural auctioneer has struggled to break through the crowded field of other GOP contenders. Long has firmly embraced former President Donald Trump’s agenda, holding out hope for a last-minute boost. 

Long represents the southwest corner of Missouri in Congress in a district that borders Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas, a rural region his campaign calls “MAGA Country.” Long has developed Trump’s taste for labeling his opponents with colorful insults. He dubbed Vicky Hartzler “Mini Liz Cheney,” Eric Schmitt as “Chicken Schmitt,” and Eric Greitens as “Snidely Whiplash” in a tweet criticizing the leading contenders in the race after a TV debate was canceled.  

Mark McCloskey

The political world may have little known nor long remembered the name Mark McCloskey had it not been for the police killing of George Floyd. When protesters marched through the streets of St. Louis in the summer of 2020, McCloskey, a personal injury attorney, grabbed his gun and stood guard outside his mansion on a gated street in the city’s Central West End neighborhood.  The tense confrontation that followed placed McCloskey at the epicenter of a national conversation about race, privilege, police violence, unruly protest, gun rights, and prosecutorial discretion. 

After a grand jury indicted McCloskey and his wife on felony charges for the unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence, the Republican National Convention invited them to address the party faithful. Governor Parson later pardoned the pair. McCloskey’s campaign website prominently features the image of him brandishing a high-powered semi-automatic rifle outside his home. Polling shows McCloskey has so far struggled to parlay his newfound celebrity into much real-world political support. 

Dave Schatz

As the leader of the Missouri state Senate, Dave Schatz shepherded some of the most conservative bills through the legislature and to the Governor’s desk in a generation, including a complete ban on all abortion procedures, and the Second Amendment Preservation Act which threatens to fine or prosecute police that attempt to enforce federal gun laws in Missouri. Schatz quotes Ronald Reagan, discusses ways to balance the federal budget, and promises to bring “the Missouri Way” to Washington, D.C. 

However, Schatz’s political clout in Jefferson City and a $2 million loan from his state campaign account hasn’t helped him break out of the single digits in the primary polling data. He has raised more money than former Governor Eric Greitens, though, finishing third in the fundraising primary behind Schmitt and Hartzler.

Eric Schmitt

Missouri’s Attorney General Eric Schmitt has leveraged the powers of his state office to generate earned media buzz in his ongoing effort to score points with the pro-Trump wing of the Republican primary voter base. Schmitt’s made-for-TV lawsuits filed against school districts, the country of China, and local Missouri governments were widely scorned by the legal community and were unsuccessful in court, but they may have gone a long way toward earning him regular appearances on Tucker Carlson’s show on the Fox News Channel. 

The publicity boost may have helped him win the donor primary, too, as his campaign hauled in more than $3.5 million in contributions. Schmitt’s campaign ads featured him using props like a baseball bat and a blow torch. Schmitt’s campaign failed to respond to multiple requests to answer questions for the 5 On Your Side voter guide.

Robert Allen 

Will appear on the ballot, but shows little to no signs of public campaign activity. 

C.W. Gardner

Published a series of web videos mocking and imitating other candidates in the race. 

Rickey Joiner

The barber says he’d take blue-collar values to the Senate. 

Dennis Chilton

The Springfield native has registered to run for elected office in both major parties in recent years. In a failed 2018 campaign, he told the Springfield News-Leader he feared the government was “killing the white population,” but added, “I’m not no racist.” 

Patrick Lewis

The veteran union worker and native of Wellsville told a local newspaper he’d represent the working class in the Senate. 

Darrell McClanahan

McClanahan campaigns under the banner of the pro-Confederate Missouri battle flag, though he told the Missouri Independent, “I don’t agree with slavery.” McClanahan is facing criminal charges in Ozark County, Missouri. 

Eric McElroy

McElroy describes himself as an author and comedian. On social media, McElroy has advocated for legal assisted suicide and a redistribution of income to address inequality. 

Bernie Mowinski 

Mowinski has run and lost in several campaigns for elected office over the years. The former Air Force veteran campaigns on a promise of national unity. 

Robert Olson

The Springfield native will appear on the ballot but shows little to no signs of public campaign activity. 

Russel Breyfogle

Breyfogle told the League of Women Voters he supports U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger on the January 6 Committee, and he would support changes to the Senate filibuster. 

Deshon Porter

The podcaster conceded he won’t win enough votes and endorsed Congressman Billy Long in the Senate Republican primary. 

Kevin Schepers

The Fenton native will appear on the ballot but shows little to no signs of public campaign activity. 

Dave Sims

The Kansas City native campaigns against pandemic-era “lockdowns.” 

Hartford Tunnell

The retired public school teacher campaigned on a platform of election integrity, though his campaign website acknowledges he does “not have 100% proof” of election fraud. He calls for Congress to “take over the voting systems.” 

Curtis Vaughn 

Vaughn says on his social media pages he’d attempt to bar former president Donald Trump and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley from holding public office or casting a vote if they were convicted of inciting the riot on January 6 or for attempting to overthrow democracy. 

Democratic Primary

Trudy Busch Valentine

A multi-millionaire heiress to a portion of the Anheuser-Busch fortune, Trudy Busch Valentine set out to carve out a legacy of her own in her first bid for elected office. A nurse by trade, Valentine talks to voters about the personal grief she experienced in life as she sells a softer side of politics, a salve for the blistering attacks and stinging rhetoric that has defined our modern era of campaigning. 

Her inheritance has proven to be an asset and a liability. With great piles of money comes scrutiny, including questions about her 1977 involvement in an exclusively white ‘Veiled Prophet’ ball. Valentine apologized for her participation in the event which occurred when she was 19 years old, and more than a decade after the peak of the civil rights movement. Valentine has highlighted her place as the only woman in the Democratic primary race and says she would be uniquely positioned to debate abortion rights in a general election matchup against an anti-abortion Republican nominee.

Lucas Kunce

Marine veteran and first-time political candidate Lucas Kunce is banking on a breakout performance in his run for the U.S. Senate. His messaging has sought to connect with the struggles of poverty, painting a contrast against leisurely lifestyles of privilege. His policy proposals target “monopoly domination,” and the “massive corporations” he says rig the system against working people. His fiery rhetoric accuses American politicians of committing “treason” by waging “economic warfare” against Americans. 

The former military attorney says the Pentagon is “wasting trillions of dollars on war,” and calls for spending more of that money rebuilding domestic infrastructure. His campaign features a heavy dose of social media advertisements and hauled in more in individual contributions and overall funds than all other candidates running in either party’s primary contest.

Spencer Toder

Political newcomer Spencer Toder, a real estate broker and medical device company owner, has taken an unconventional path in the Democratic primary. Instead of ‘dialing for dollars,’ or whipping up a frenzy in social media or digital ads to drive web traffic and donations, he’s courted Democratic primary voters by working alongside them in niche advocacy areas, attempting to earn their trust by working in the trenches with them. He promises to share ten percent of his campaign donations to help build out the rest of the party structure. 

Beyond his efforts to signal loyalty to the party at large, he registered voters, raised money for Afghan refugees, helped people in poverty apply for Medicaid or expanded child tax credits, and organized petition drives to help wrongfully imprisoned people get out of jail. While public polling shows Toder faces an uphill climb to win the race, he argues his support lies in the grassroots and in specific corners of the liberal voter bloc that will come out and boost his campaign. 

Ron Harris

The Air Force veteran and former Republican Ward Committeeman now works as a truck driver. The Kansas City native has run for political office in both GOP and Democratic primaries over the years. 

Jewel Kelly

The Air Force veteran from Festus describes himself as a moderate Democrat. He has called for raising police wages, reducing military spending, investing in veteran services, and raising the top tax brackets on the wealthiest Americans. 

Pat Kelly

The environmental engineer is running on a campaign devoted to climate science awareness. He describes global warming as “by far, the worst, most severe, and most dire threat America faces today.” 

Lewis Rolen

The former St. Louis public school teacher is campaigning on a promise to improve public education and slash military spending. He has called to end private for-profit prisons. 

Gena Ross

The evangelist from Platte City ran for Congress in Missouri’s 6th Congressional district against incumbent Republican Sam Graves in 2020. Ross supports abolishing the Senate filibuster and adapting the nation’s health care system to Medicare for All. 

Joshua Shipp

The health educator and citizen activist is calling for an end to qualified immunity and to the bail bond system. Shipp unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2018. 

Clay Taylor

The member of the People’s Party of Christ runs a transitional home to shelter unhoused people for the ‘Federation of Christ Jesus.’ His campaign slogan is to “Make America Great for Everyone.” 

Carla Wright 

The former child care center director who runs a medical testing company is calling for greater Black representation in elected office, free college education, amnesty for non-violent offenders, reparations for slavery, and the abolition of the Electoral College. Carla “Coffee” Wright has also called for canceling medical and student loan debts. 

Missouri’s First Congressional District
Primary expected to decide election

Republicans in the Missouri House and Senate drew new boundaries around the First Congressional District, but the partisan makeup of the voters living in it remains roughly the same. Due to the volume of Democratic-leaning voters living in this district, the primary election is widely expected to be the contest that decides which candidate will win in November.  

Democratic Primary

Cori Bush

Freshman U.S. Representative Cori Bush will face the voters for the first time as an incumbent after she pulled off a political upset and toppled the Clay family dynasty that represented St. Louis in Congress for half a century. 

Bush, a Ferguson activist, has formed political alliances with a progressive group of Democratic women in Congress and refers to herself as a “politivist,” or a politician activist. Her style of amplifying the voices of protesters in the halls of Congress has rubbed some politicians the wrong way, and yet has resonated with some grassroots activists in her district. 

Steve Roberts

Attorney and Air National Guardsman Steve Roberts served two terms in the Missouri House before his 2020 election to the Missouri state Senate. Roberts has disputed explosive allegations of sexual assault from two women, including a late former member of the Missouri House. 

His campaign has courted support from law enforcement, Jewish groups, and former Congressman Lacy Clay. He argues he would be less of an agitator and more of a legislator than Rep. Bush has been. 

Earl Childress

An ordained pastor, Childress is a St. Louis native. He is running to unseat Cori Bush and is campaigning on reducing crime in the city. He says one of his first priorities in office would be to provide opportunities to people who were recently incarcerated.

Michael Daniels 

St. Louis personal injury attorney Michael Daniels launched his campaign for Congress promising to move the city forward through “strategic economic partnerships with our underserved communities.”

Ronald Harshaw

“Ron” Harshaw is running for Congress and promises on Twitter to “tell it how it is.” He marched with abortion rights groups following the overturn of Roe V. Wade and says Cori Bush’s term has been full of broken promises.

Republican Primary

Andrew Jones Jr.

Jones labels himself a “Business leader. Not a politician.” A resident of Botanical Heights, he is an executive at Southwest Electric. He is campaigning on parental rights in education and spending cuts in the federal government.

Steven Jordan

Will appear on the ballot but shows little to no signs of public campaign activity.

Laura Mitchell-Riley

Will appear on the ballot but shows little to no signs of public campaign activity.

Missouri’s Second Congressional District
Redistricting gives Republican advantage

This second congressional district now covers areas south and west of the greater St. Louis area, touching St. Charles, St. Louis, Warren and Franklin counties. What was once a toss-up district now includes more reliably Republican voters. Republican Ann Wagner has been in office since 2013. A small field of Republicans looks to unseat the incumbent. Two Democrats are facing off in the district.

Republican Primary

Ann Wagner

U.S. Rep Ann Wagner (R-MO 2nd District) has worked in the Republican party and on GOP campaigns since the 1990s. She voted on party lines on the big issues, including voting against both impeachments of former President Donald Trump. She did break with the majority of the GOP on a recent House vote to protect interracial and same-sex marriage. The Ballwin resident served as the United States ambassador to Luxembourg in 2005 during President George W. Bush’s administration. She was Chairperson of the Missouri Republican Party from 1999 to 2005.

Paul Berry

Berry is leaning into mottos popularized by former President Trump and calling on voters to “drain the swamp.” He is anti-abortion and against COVID prevention mandates. Berry previously ran for U.S. House in Missouri’s First Congressional District in 2016.

Tony Salvatore

The military veteran is recently retired from a career with an airline. He fears the country is headed for a redistribution of wealth. He repeatedly decries the “New World Order” in politics and American culture.

Wesley Smith

Branding himself the “Wolf of Washington,” Smith is a proponent of the Second Amendment. He believes in reforming the prison system and re-establishing rights for those who were incarcerated. His hometown is Arnold, Missouri.

Democratic Primary

Trish Gunby 

Missouri Rep. Trish Gunby (D-99) is calling for a “new day” in Missouri’s Second Congressional District. She is pushing for a universal healthcare system that supports Americans and halts medical debt. She calls the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V. Wade “disastrous.” 

Raymond “Ray” Reed 

Reed identified “healthcare, jobs and justice” as his platform. Raymond “Ray” Reed believes in regulating social media to stop the spread of misinformation. From a proud union family, Reed grew up in the Brentwood area. At 25 years old, Reed is leaning into representing Gen Z in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

RELATED: Who is Ray Reed?

St. Louis County Executive
Incumbent Page running for re-election

The primary election for St. Louis County Executive features a referendum on the incumbent, Dr. Sam Page, who came to power in the wake of a federal corruption scandal that felled his predecessor Steve Stenger. Now, federal agents are once again poking around county government offices, and have already brought criminal corruption charges against one of Page’s closest political aides. 

Page enters the primary with both the benefits and the baggage of the incumbency. After a term that included a brutal pandemic and a rise in crime, his Democratic challenger Jane Dueker has unleashed a string of criticism attacking Page’s judgment, transparency, and leadership style. Page has defended his term in office, and has bristled at Dueker’s criticism. He has refused to debate her, opting instead to run a more careful campaign.

Democratic Primary

Sam Page 

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, a medical doctor, has promoted his health care credentials and his record guiding the county government through the pandemic. He also campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, highlighting his role as Chair of the County Council during the hearings investigating the former Stenger administration. 

Page’s rivals on the county council have grilled him for handing out patronage jobs to political workers. His campaign introduces him as “Dr. Sam,” presenting him as warm and approachable, while his detractors say he’s used his power to protect himself and his political allies. 

RELATED: Who is Sam Page?

Jane Dueker 

Jane Dueker, a government attorney by trade, started her legal career as an Assistant Attorney General and later advised Governor Bob Holden as his Chief Legal Counsel and chief of staff. More recently, she’s taken stints with corporate law firms and lobbied state lawmakers on behalf of police unions. 

Dueker has taken a scorched earth approach on the campaign trail, challenging every aspect of Sam Page’s administration, including his personal character, leadership, and effectiveness. Her Twitter handle says, “I am not Sam Page,” and her campaign strategy has followed that exact template, portraying herself as the anti-Page candidate on the ballot. 

Republican Primary 

Shamed Dogan 

State Representative Shamed Dogan, a moderate Republican, served four two-year terms in Jefferson City. Now that term limits have ejected him from the House, he has his eyes on a job closer to home at the county government building in Clayton. 

Dogan, who warned against the rise of polarization in politics during his farewell speech on the House floor, sees a path to victory for a bipartisan legislator in a year where national political sentiments could swing against the party in power in Washington. 

In the statehouse, Dogan chaired the House Special Committee on Criminal Justice and focused most of his efforts on education, ethics, and public safety. 

Katherine Pinner

The local Republican activist could not be reached for comment. Her professional website describes her as an author and consultant, but her political campaign shows little signs of public activity or fundraising.

St. Louis
Voters deciding on 2 issues, alderman

Along with state and federal races, St. Louis residents will vote on two local ballot issues. Ward 21 will also vote to fill an aldermanic vacancy.

Proposition F

Shall Section 24 of Article IV of the City’s Charter be changed to increase the maximum fine for violations of City ordinances regarding preservation and protection of environmental conditions for preventing harm to the health, safety, and comfort of City residents or harm to private or public property such as unauthorized dumping of waste or debris on private or public property, prohibited refuse, waste tire disposal, and the like from $500.00 to $1,000.00?

A yes vote would support doubling the maximum fine from $500 to $1000 for violations of city environmental ordinances, such as illegal dumping.

The proposition comes at a time St. Louis has had an unprecedented number of trash complaints. It would buckle down on people who illegally dump in the city’s dumpsters, alleys and vacant lots.

“So it’s really frustrating to folks, and the perception and perhaps the reality is that part of it is contractors and maybe other folks, possibly from the county, crossing over into the city and dumping,” said 5 On Your Side Political Analyst Anita Manion.

Other contributing factors, Manion said, include shortages of waste removal staff as well as an increase in at-home shopping and take-out dining, which means people are throwing away more garbage than before the pandemic. 

“All of those things have come together to create a real problem with trash in our city,” Manion said. “And so this is sort of an effort to buckle down on those folks who are using the city’s dumpsters and individuals’ alleys behind their houses to get rid of their waste without paying for it.”

Proposition S

Shall The Board of Education of the City of St. Louis borrow money in the amount of One Hundred Sixty Million Dollars ($160,000,000) for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, renovating, repairing, improving, furnishing and equipping school sites, buildings and related facilities in the District, including but not limited to (1) removing lead paint, fencing and other hazardous materials at affected schools, (2) upgrading mechanical systems to include replacement of outdated or obsolete equipment, temperature controls, and duct cleaning to increase ventilation, (3) upgrading building infrastructure by replacing roofs, tuck-pointing, waterproofing and window replacements, (4) improving security systems to increase student safety by installing fire alarm systems and replacing interior and exterior doors, (5) upgrading technology to modernize classrooms and improve academic performance, (6) improving building conditions by renovating restrooms and other ADA improvements, and (7) increasing learning opportunities by creating outdoor learning spaces and making improvements to playgrounds and athletic fields and facilities, and issue general obligation bonds for the payment thereof?

If this proposition is approved, the adjusted debt service levy of the school district is estimated to remain unchanged at the current rate of $0.6211 per one hundred dollars assessed valuation of real and personal property.

The proposition would support the St. Louis Board of Education borrowing $160 million to fund a wide range of repairs and renovations in the Saint Louis Public School District, including security system upgrades, lead removal and ADA improvements. It would not change tax rates.

In Initial project allocations for the funding’s use, a large portion of potential spending would go to HVAC upgrades, restroom renovations and “building envelope” work such as hazardous material abatement, waterproofing, and roof and window replacements.

“The St. Louis city schools have gotten COVID relief money, but usually that’s not allowed to be used for these buildings type of improvements. So that’s why they need a separate bond issue,” Manion said.

The bill has widespread support from teachers unions and school district leaders, as well as the city comptroller. St. Louis voters have a history of approving similar bond issues to improve their schools, Manion said.

The district has complained of losing millions in much-needed tax revenue in recent years due to tax breaks given to developers.

“Those TIFS and tax abatements, what they do is alleviate some of those property taxes that developers would have to pay,” Manion said. “Well, the personal property tax is what goes to fund the schools.”

Ward 21 Alderman

Aug. 2, 2022, is also the date of the Ward 21 Aldermanic vacancy special election. In addition to a primary ballot, voters in Ward 21 will be handed a special election ballot to decide who will fill the remainder of former alderman John Collins Muhammad’s term, which expires in April 2023.

Four contenders are facing off for the seat of Collins Muhammad, who resigned in May after he was federally indicted in a pay-to-play scheme along with then-Board President Lewis Reed and Alderman Jeffrey Boyd. 

The Central Democratic committee endorsed Laura Keys, who has previously run against and lost twice to Collins Muhammad. Running as independents are former alderman Melinda Long, former carpenter union official Joann Dyson Williams, and newcomer Ebony Moore.

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