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Zweifel wins Democratic race for treasurer

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 | 9:17 a.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY - Florissant state Rep. Clint Zweifel on Tuesday emerged from a crowded four-way race to win the Democratic primary for state treasurer.

Zweifel, a three-term lawmaker, knocked off his party's 2004 nominee for treasurer, an attorney from Creve Coeur and a former Kansas City mayor. In November, Zweifel will face state Sen. Brad Lager, of Savannah, who was uncontested in the Republican primary.

"Politics, like life in general, is unpredictable when you will have opportunities like this present themselves," Zweifel said Tuesday. "It's rewarding, and we're pumped."

Zweifel captured 103,146 votes - or about 32 percent of votes cast - to turn back Arnold Mayor Mark Powell, who received 92,795 votes - or 29 percent - in complete but unofficial results. Attorney Andria Danine Simckes, of Creve Coeur, and former Kansas City mayor Charles Wheeler each came in well behind the two front-runners.

Zweifel handily won St. Louis County and swept most of the counties through the southwestern and central portions of the state. Powell, who won the 2004 Democratic primary, did well in the Bootheel and the northwest corner.

Powell, reached by phone just after conceding, pledged his support for Zweifel. Powell said he had expected to lose in St. Louis and that higher voter turnout would have helped him overcome that margin. About 324,000 votes were cast.

"The voter turnout really hurt me. I gave it my best, but being outspent 20-to-1 was hard to overcome," he said.

The race for the office vacated by Republican incumbent Sarah Steelman, who opted to run for governor instead of re-election, fell far from the political spotlight. That made Zweifel's ability to run some television ads a significant advantage.

The treasurer is responsible for investing the state's money, serves as the custodian for state funds and holds unclaimed property. The office also administers a state college savings plan and manages special tax incentives for development-stage companies.

Each of the four Democrats said they wanted to find ways to make the treasurer's office more directly relevant to Missourians.

Zweifel said he wants the state treasurer to be more vocal during legislative debates, advising lawmakers about the fiscal effects of policies they consider. For example, Zweifel said he would have warned against the 2005 Medicaid cuts because of the financial impact.

Powell and Simckes focused on promoting economic development. Powell called for investing money in local banks - making it easier for businesses to get loans and therefore expand.

Simckes said she wanted to set up public-private partnerships for local hospitals and create a universal 401(k) plan that links Missouri's small businesses and employees into one joint pool to reduce costs. If she had been elected, Simckes would have become the first African-American to hold a statewide office in Missouri.

Wheeler, mayor of Kansas City throughout much of the 1970s, called for creating a higher education compact with surrounding states to control tuition.

 


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