JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri's Republican auditor candidates campaigned on their previous work in government, and voters on Tuesday sided with the former U.S. State Department official over the former state legislator.
Tom Schweich claimed a comfortable victory over state Rep. Allen Icet in Tuesday's primary election, winning most of the state except the counties in southeastern Missouri.
The victory sets up a fall campaign against Democrat Susan Montee, who was elected auditor in 2006 and faced little opposition in her primary. Heading into the primaries, Montee had built a cash advantage for the November race.
Montee, who is a lawyer and an accountant, says she is the most qualified person for the job and that she plans to continuing doing what she's been doing as auditor.
Throughout the Republican primary, Schweich sought to portray himself as the outsider who had never run for office before and was equipped to combat problems within state government. He touted his experience with audits and corporate investigations that he conducted through his private legal practice and work with the federal government.
Currently a visiting law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Schweich was the chief of staff for the U.S. mission to the United Nations and worked for the State Department to combat drugs, terrorism and corruption in Afghanistan and other countries. He has argued that the experience will help him spot problems in Missouri government.
Schweich also was helped by a fundraising advantage. After bowing out of the U.S. Senate race, Schweich became a favorite among Missouri Republican leaders.
Icet, the House Budget Committee chairman, argued on the campaign trail that his familiarity with state government better prepared him to be auditor. In a statement, Icet congratulated Schweich and urged Republicans to support Schweich's attempt to defeat Montee.
Libertarian Charles Baum also is running for the post.
Democrats have controlled the state auditor's office since 1999.
The last elected incumbent auditor to lose re-election was Democrat Haskell Holman, who was appointed in 1953 and held the office until Republican Kit Bond knocked him off in 1970. Four years later, Bond's chosen replacement as auditor — John Ashcroft — was defeated by Democratic challenger George Lehr.