Missouri once again has a divided government
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Missouri once again has a divided government

Date: November 5, 2008
By: Sarah D. Wire
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri will continue to have a divided government with a Republican lieutenant governor and attorney general. The Democrats will hold the state treasurer's office and secretary of state's office. 

Missouri has it's first new attorney general in 16 years after the heated race between two state Senators concluded Tuesday with Democratic candidate Chris Koster's victory over Republican candidate Mike Gibbons.

Gibbons conceded the race to Koster who had 52.8 percent of the vote.

With such a close race, Koster said "I was surprised that the call came in as early as it did; we were both watching the same numbers out of St. Louis, and we basically reconfirmed our friendship with one another."

"As your next attorney general, I will work every day to build upon the strong foundation that attorney general and governor-elect Jay Nixon had built, and put the interests of working families over the interests of the powerful in Jefferson City," Koster said in his acceptance speech.

Gibbons attempted to joke with the crying crowd as he gave his concession speech.

He said the Republicans had a tough race.

"I wish it was me but it wasn't meant to be," Gibbons said.

As Gibbons left the stage he said "see you guys later." The crowd chanted "we like Mike" as he exited.

The Election Night concludes a race characterized by campaign finance intrigue and controversial campaign ads.

The attorney general's race became the nastiest of the statewide races in Missouri with charges of coddling welfare cheats and taking money from mobsters.

The attorney general's was one of the more expensive statewide races, where Democratic state Sen. Chris Koster raised more than $4.4 million and Republican state Sen. Mike Gibbons raised more than $3.5 million.

Gibbons raised $1.6 million in October, due largely to a $1.1 million contribution from the suburban Washington, D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee. He reported $337,043 on hand heading into the final days of the campaign.

Koster reported raising $771,882 during the same period, with $252,582 on hand.

The influx of money led in part to the negative tone of the campaign

Gibbons received the largest campaign donation ever made in the state, as well as $200,000 donated by Koster's ex-wife Rebecca Bowman Nassikas. Koster has faced accusations of money laundering during his primary campaign, and is under investigation by the Missouri Ethics Commission. The combined amount of money poured into the candidates' campaigns was more than $5 million.

Campaign ads run by both candidates accused the other of associating with or engaging in criminal activity -- a strong statement in a race for the attorney general's office. One of Koster's late-season television ads accused Gibbons of turning a blind eye to Medicaid fraud.

A television ad released by Gibbons' campaign two weeks ago accused Koster of accepting contributions from the wife of a Gambino crime family associate, as well as writing bad checks and not paying income taxes more than a decade ago.

Koster's campaign said the tax liens filed against Koster were discounted due to a clerical error, and denounced Gibbons' associating Koster with organized crime.

Koster currently has a complaint against him pending in front of the Missouri Ethics Commission that stems from accusations that he laundered money for him campaign to bypass the now non-existent campaign contribution limits.

Now that the animated race between two former colleagues is over, Koster said, "Achieving change will be no easy task, but tonight, Missourians have not only spoken for change, they have demanded it. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the trust you have put in me. I will not forget it, and I will not let you down."

Republican Peter Kinder celebrated his successful campaign for a second term as Missouri Lieutenant Governor Tuesday night at the Drury Plaza Hotel in Chesterfield. 

Kinder said he will work with governor elect Democrat Jay Nixon to keep state government running efficiently.

"He will need help in governing this state with a majority of the other party controlling both the House and Senate," Kinder said. "I can help him with that. I will work with him if he is willing to work with me."

But, Kinder added, "where devotion to principle or constitution demands it, I will oppose him."

Coming up short in the last night's general election was Democrat Sam Page, a member of the state House of Representatives and medical doctor from suburban St. Louis. 

Kinder held onto his position, defeating Page with 53.1 of the vote.

Kinder, 54, was first elected as Missouri's lieutenant governor in 2004. Before that, he served 12 years as state senator from Missouri's 27th District. He also has experience as associate publisher of the Southeast Missourian newspaper in Cape Girardeau Ô014 his hometown Ô014 and he worked from 1984 to 1987 as attorney and real estate representative for Drury Industries. 

Page led Kinder in fundraising going into the final days of the election. He raised an estimated total of $2.6 million to Kinder's $1.4 million.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan won a second term with a landslide 61 percent of the vote. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan was the only Democrat in statewide government during the previous term.

Her opponent Mitch Hubbard, who manages a McDonald's in Fulton, received 35.6 of the vote.

Carnahan, a fifth generation public servant, won the 2004 election with 4.6 percent of the vote.

Democrat Clint Zweifel won the state treasurer's race beating Republican Brad Lager with 50.3 percent.

In the state Senate, Republicans picked up three seats, upholding their majority with 23 seats.

In the state House of Representatives, Democrats gained three seats.