ST. LOUIS – Trudy Busch Valentine has won the Missouri Democratic primary in the race to replace retiring Senator Roy Blunt.

The Associated Press has called Valentine as the winner of the Democratic primary. With 95% of precincts reporting, she has 43% of the primary vote. Lucas Kunce finished second, with 38% of the vote.

The general election is Tuesday, November 8.

Busch Valentine entered the primary race in late March as a political newcomer. She is the daughter of August “Gussie” Busch Jr., who grew the Anheuser-Busch company into one of the largest breweries in the world. 

Kunce, a veteran, served 13 years in the Marines, with tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Notable endorsements for Busch Valentine include the Missouri Nurses Association, current St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II, former St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, former St. Louis mayors Francis Slay and Lyda Krewson, and civil rights organization Freedom Incorporated.

Kunce received endorsements from Pro-Choice Missouri, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board, former Congressman Bill Clay Sr., Ferguson Mayor Ella Jones, and St. Louis County Councilwoman Shalonda Webb.

Busch Valentine, a former nurse and philanthropist, has run on a platform of reaching out to rural Missourians by pushing for better access to broadband internet, health care, and jobs.

Kunce has said he wants to bust corporate monopolies and end foreign ownership of farmland.

Busch Valentine drew criticism for her refusal to debate Kunce. She recently apologized after a Kunce campaign ad attacked her involvement with the Veiled Prophet Ball as a college student.

The Veiled Prophet organization was formed in the late 1800s in response to a massive railroad worker strike involving many black workers in St. Louis. The secret society of wealthy, all-white St. Louisans evolved over the years. The organization would go on to disavow bigotry and provide community support, including an annual Fourth of July celebration.  

Meanwhile, Kunce is no stranger to political controversy. He opposed abortion rights while running for a Missouri House seat in 2006. He claimed to have changed his mind on the issue after his military service in the Middle East.

The winner has an uphill battle to claim the Senate seat in Missouri, a red state. Only three Democrats have been elected to a federal Senate seat in Missouri since 1970: Stuart Symington, Thomas Eagleton, and Claire McCaskill. Jean Carnahan was appointed to fill her husband Mel Carnahan’s seat after his posthumous election in 2000.

In March 2021, Sen. Blunt announced he would not seek re-election.

Blunt had been in Congress since 1997 and was elected to the Senate in 2010. His Senate tenure will come to an end in January 2023. He previously served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and as Missouri Secretary of State.