UPDATE: Recount sought in attorney general race

Friday, August 15, 2008 | 8:27 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY - A Democratic attorney general candidate who lost by fewer than 800 votes said Friday that she plans to ask for a re-count.

Margaret Donnelly's campaign announced that it would ask for the re-count after last week's primary election returns are certified. Chris Koster beat Donnelly by 0.2 percent with more than 346,000 votes cast.

The secretary of state's office has until Aug. 26 to certify the election results. State law allows candidates to ask for a re-count if they lose by less than one percent. The last statewide re-count was in a 2006 Republican state auditor primary election.

The attorney general race was so close that even as Koster was declaring victory in a speech to supporters just before midnight on election night, Donnelly's campaign said it was considering whether to ask for a re-count.

On Thursday, Donnelly told reporters during a political breakfast at the State Fair that she hadn't decided yet whether to ask for the re-count. But a day later, the House member from St. Louis said she wanted to ensure no errors had been made in counting the ballots. The campaign has hired the law firm Lathrop & Gage to handle the re-count.

"Voting is the heart of the democratic process, and we are pursuing a re-count as that is the fairest way possible to make sure the people's voice through the election is most accurately heard," Donnelly said in a written statement.

Koster, who had switched from the Republican Party about a year before formally announcing he was running for attorney general, emerged from a bitter three-way primary with Donnally and Jeff Harris from Columbia. He was dogged repeatedly by complaints about his fundraising tactics and even whether he was a true Democrat.

Koster's campaign in a statement released Friday said the state senator from Harrisonville doesn't think the re-count will affect who won the primary.

"We remain confident that our campaign is on the path to victory in November, and I will continue to travel to every corner of Missouri," Koster said in a written statement.

Republican state Sen. Michael Gibbons, of Kirkwood, was uncontested in the GOP attorney general primary.

The Democratic attorney general campaign was not the only primary to have results so close that the apparent loser plans to ask for a re-count.

Steve Eagleton, who lost by 35 votes in a Democratic primary for Gibbons' suburban St. Louis state Senate seat, said he too will ask for a re-count. James Trout, of Webster Groves, lost in a 2006 state House race before coming out ahead of the nephew of the late U.S. Sen. Tom Eagleton. Republican Eric Schmitt, of Glendale, was uncontested in the GOP primary.



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