Politics & Government

A Democratic primary battle in Missouri for attorney general

JEFFERSON CITY — Down-ballot races aren't supposed to be this good. In a year dominated by a never-ending presidential race and a high-stakes contest for the governorship, a close-fought and intricate battle is under way in Missouri for attorney general.

The candidates vying to be the state's top lawyer have proposed policy and defined priorities, but they have also rolled out attack ads and weathered ethics complaints. As they have emphasized their own experiences, they have questioned those of their opponents. And party loyalty is a major issue.

And this is just the primary.

Two state representatives, a state senator and a schoolteacher are on the ticket for the Aug. 5 Democratic primary. Each seeks to replace Jay Nixon, the four-term Democratic incumbent now running for governor.

Sen. Chris Koster, of Raymore, is a polished former prosecutor who speaks well and boasts an impressive record but who lost Democratic and Republican friends alike by switching parties last year. He has come under scrutiny more recently for his fundraising methods.

Jeff Harris, of Columbia, is a Democratic standard-bearer, a former House minority leader and an attorney with Kansas City connections. Much of his record has been set aside, however, as his campaign has focused on impugning Koster’s.

Rep. Margaret Donnelly, of St. Louis County, is a veteran of House budget battles and a longtime lawyer and advocate for children and families. She is well regarded in the corridors of the Capitol, but she has not made inroads with labor groups and other Democratic stalwarts.

Then there is Molly Williams, a Kansas City social-studies teacher and political unknown who so far has refused to engage in anything resembling a campaign.

Beyond discounting Williams’ influence, observers and insiders are torn on just how the race will shake out.

Read the full story at KansasCity.com.