JEFFERSON CITY • Missouri incumbents prevailed in their campaigns for statewide office Tuesday, while Democrat Jason Kander appears to have won the wide-open secretary of state’s race after unofficial final results.
Incumbent Attorney General Chris Koster took a strong lead in the race and was declared the winner over Republican rival Ed Martin shortly before 11 p.m. Meanwhile, Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder fought off a challenge from Democrat Susan Montee to secure a rare third term in that office. State treasurer Clint Zweifel, a Democrat, also eked out a win after trailing in the polls much of the night.
With nearly every precinct reporting early today, Kander led Republican Shane Schoeller by about 30,000 votes.
Koster, 48, previously served in the state Senate as a Republican, but he switched parties before running for attorney general four years ago.
“Those who supported our efforts this day, and those who supported the Republican nominee, you are my bosses equally, and I will endeavor again to serve you faithfully,” Koster said in his victory speech.
A year ago, Kinder, 58, was seen as a likely gubernatorial candidate against Democrat Nixon until a series of highly-publicized controversies, including reports of thousands in taxpayer-funded travel expenses and a prior relationship with a stripper.
He faced a backlash from some Republicans earlier this year, but Kinder, 58, won the party’s nomination and went on to defeat former state auditor Montee on Tuesday.
“I’m humbled and gratified by the verdict of the voters,” he told the Post-Dispatch.
Dismissing his public embarrassments as “non-issues,” Kinder said voters showed they were more concerned about where candidates stand on values issues, such as abortion and gun owners rights.
Montee, 53, served as state auditor from 2007 to 2011 and was looking to make a political comeback after losing her re-election bid to Republican Tom Schweich two years ago.
As results trickled in Tuesday, Zweifel was locked in a tight race with his Republican challenger, state Rep. Cole McNary, of Chesterfield, but was named the winner shortly before midnight.
In his bid for re-election, Zweifel, 39, focused on his record of helping Missouri keep its triple-A credit rating and getting high marks from the state auditor, who is a Republican.