Rep. Jeff Messenger, R-Republic, survived a primary challenge from Loren Hunt, who received $125,000 from Missouri The Club for Growth Political Action Committee. The group has received $2.4 million from mega-donor Rex Sinquefield from 2012-2014. Sinquefield has given $32 million to political candidates and causes in the Show-Me-State since 2006.
Missouri does not have campaign finance limits in place, so donors like Sinquefield can donate as much as they want.
Messenger said all the attack ads remove the focus of the campaign from real issues.
"The unfortunate part about this election, at least in my district, was that our focus was on that [money],” Messenger said. “It wasn't on the candidates and wasn't on the candidates ideas and what they wanted to do for their district. It became a focus on do we want big money and special interest groups controlling our Legislature?”
Messenger supported the income tax cut bill the Republican controlled General Assembly passed in the last session, but he did not vote to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of House Bill 253, a controversial income tax cut bill that failed in Sept. 2013.
"He [Sinquefield] wanted to control the Legislature,” Messenger said. “He had spent a lot of money trying to push 253. He was trying to influence legislators votes, I think. And because he didn't get that, he was trying to put those people [primary challengers] into those positions so he could get what he wanted."
In addition to Messenger, the Club for Growth PAC supported three other Republican primary challengers, including a candidate challenging Rep. Lyle Rowland, R-Cedarcreek, of Taney County.
"We strongly encourage primary voters to support these and other Missouri Club for Growth PAC endorsed candidates so that we can truly move this
state toward smaller, more efficient government, and a free and flourishing private sector," the group wrote before the election.
All four targeted candidates won their primaries despite facing attack advertisements.
Messenger said his victory proves Missourians want real candidates, not campaign cash, to hold influence in Jefferson City.
Gov. Jay Nixon and several members of the Legislature have repeatedly pushed for changes to the state’s campaign finance laws in recent years, but those efforts have failed.
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