Outside spending boosts Republicans in swing legislative races around Missouri 

By: - November 3, 2022 11:30 am

Republicans have spent big to aide the party's candidates in competitive legislative races around the state (Jason Hancock/Missouri Independent).

Democratic candidates in tough legislative races around Missouri were holding their own in fundraising against their Republican opponents heading into the campaign’s homestretch.

But the tide quickly turned.

Groups like the House Republican Campaign Committee, or HRCC, and the pro-school choice Missouri Federation for Children PAC have been spending big to protect GOP incumbents and knock off vulnerable Democrats in an effort to hold on to the massive majorities Republicans hold in both legislative chambers.

Days before voters head to the polls, here’s a rundown of the spending in some of Missouri’s most competitive legislative races.

Senate District 24

The most expensive legislative race in the state is taking place in the St. Louis County district vacated by term-limited Democratic state Sen. Jill Schupp.

Republican George Hruza has poured money into his campaign, and reports spending $817,000 in October, with $80,000 cash on hand for the race’s homestretch. He’s also benefited from $860,000 in spending by the Missouri Senate Campaign Committee, a PAC that supports GOP candidates for state Senate.

He’s facing off with Democratic state Rep. Tracy McCreery, who reported spending $406,000, with $112,000 cash on hand. A political action committee established to support McCreery’s run for Senate, called Serve Missouri PAC, reported spending $467,000.

Majority Forward, a PAC that supports Democratic Senate candidates, has spent $270,000 on television ads in the district.

House District 12

Republican Tom Hutsler of Parkville has gotten nearly $80,000 in help from the HRCC in recent weeks for this Platte County race. His campaign has spent around $27,000, with $10,000 cash on hand for the homestretch.

His Democratic opponent, Jamie Johnson of Kansas City, has spent $11,000 and has $30,000 cash on hand.

House District 14

Democratic state Rep. Ashley Aune won her first term in 2020. Now she’s facing around $70,000 in spending by the HRCC and another $15,000 by a political action committee called Excelsior PAC.

Excelsior PAC is connected to a web of organizations tied to the law firm of University of Missouri curator and former Missouri GOP chair Todd Graves.

Aune has spent $26,000 in recent weeks and reports having $65,000 cash on hand. Her GOP opponent, Eric Holmes of Kansas City, has spent only $300 in October and reports having $45,000 cash on hand.

House District 17

Another Democratic incumbent in a tough district with a target on his back, three-term Rep. Mark Ellebracht of Liberty reported spending $1,300 in recent weeks with $81,000 cash on hand.

His GOP opponent, Bill Allen of Kansas City, has spent around $4,000, with only $1,500 cash on hand. But HRCC has spent $45,000 in the district, and the Missouri Federation for Children PAC has dropped in $20,000.

House District 29

Another district currently held by Democrats, but this time the incumbent isn’t in the race.

Rory Rowland resigned the seat after he was elected mayor of Independence earlier this year.

Democrats nominated Aaron Crossley of Independence, who has spent $22,000 in recent weeks and has $38,000 cash on hand. His GOP opponent, David Martin of Kansas City, has spent $1,100 and has $5,600 cash on hand.

Martin is getting a boost from the HRCC, which has spent $65,000 in the district

House District 34

In the seat vacated by Republican Rick Roeber, who was expelled from the Missouri House over allegations that he physically and sexually abused his children, GOP candidate J.C. Crossley has spent $15,000 and has $3,000 cash on hand.

Democrat Kemp Strickler has reported spending only $700, but has $91,000 cash on hand.

To help Crossley, the HRCC has spent $35,000 and the Missouri Federation for Children PAC has spent $12,000.

House District 47

A long-held GOP seat in Boone County was redrawn into a swing district this year.

Republican John Martin of Columbia reported spending $4,400 in October and has $49,000 cash on hand. Democrat Adrian Plank of Columbia spent $8,500 and has $26,000 cash on hand.

The HRCC has spent over $90,000 in the district to help Martin.

Meanwhile, Plank has gotten help from the House Democratic Campaign Committee, which spent $10,000, and the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council Missouri-Kansas Area Political Action Committee, which spent $3,600.

House District 96

Republican Brad Christ and Democrat Leslie Derrington, both of St. Louis, are facing off for a seat left vacant when the incumbent Republican ran unsuccessfully for state auditor.

Christ has spent $43,000 in October and reported $31,000 cash on hand. The HRCC has chipped in $70,000 in spending, and the Missouri Federation for Children PAC spent $14,000

Derrington reported spending $21,000 and having $4,000 cash on hand.

House District 98

Democrat Deb Lavender of St. Louis is hoping to reclaim a seat in the Missouri House that she gave up to run for the state Senate two years ago, facing off with Republican Ryan Higgins of Valley Park.

Lavender reported spending $104,000, with $43,000 cash on hand.

She is also getting help from Protect Missouri Freedom, a PAC largely funded by labor unions which has spent $22,000 in the district. The Missouri Democratic State Committee spent roughly $8,000.

Higgins spent $3,000 and has $31,000 cash on hand. The HRCC has spent $43,000 and Missouri Federation for Children PAC spent $39,000.

House District 105

In a rematch from 2020, Republican Rep. Adam Schwadron is once again facing off with Democrat Cindy Berne to represent the St. Charles County district.

Schwadron reported spending $21,000 in October, with $18,000 cash on hand. He’s getting help from the HRCC, which spent $47,000, and the Missouri Federation for Children PAC, which spent $13,000.

Berne reported spending $38,000 with $23,000 cash on hand.  The Missouri Democratic State Committee spent $12,000 and Protect Missouri Freedom spent $57,000.

House District 133

In the race to replace state Rep. Curtis Trent, who gave up the Springfield-based seat to run for state Senate, Republican Melanie Stinnett is facing off with Democrat Amy Blansit.

Stinnett reported spending $67,000, with $12,000 cash on hand. The HRCC spent $20,000 in the district, and the Missouri Federation for Children PAC spent $5,600.

Blansit reported spending $17,000, with $16,000 cash on hand.

House District 135

Democratic Rep. Betsy Fogle knocked off an incumbent Republican in 2020 by just 76 votes.

To hang on to the district, Fogle spent nearly $100,000 in October, and reported another $50,000 cash on hand. She’s gotten $14,000 of support from the Missouri Democratic State committee, $10,000 from the House Democratic Campaign Committee and $15,500 from Protect Missouri Freedom.

Republican A.J. Exner reported spending $10,000, and has $10,000 cash on hand. He’s also benefited from $50,000 in spending by the HRCC.

Correction:  The story has been updated to state that Rep. Ashley Aune won her first term in 2020. 

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Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has been writing about Missouri since 2011, most recently as lead political reporter for The Kansas City Star. He has spent nearly two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, and has a track record of exposing government wrongdoing and holding elected officials accountable.

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