Dem. front-runner in Missouri AG race adds cash, gains opponent
ST. LOUIS -- At least former Missouri Democratic House Minority Leader Jeff Harris will now have to spend some of that campaign cash he's socked away for his run at state attorney general in 2008.
Democratic State Rep. Margaret Donnelly of suburban St. Louis ended speculation by declaring herself a candidate for the party's nomination to attorney general (AG) on Friday. Incumbent AG Jay Nixon will challenge incumbent GOP Gov. Matt Blunt next year.
Donnelly's name - and that of Public Service Commissioner and former House Speaker Steve Gaw - surfaced several months ago as possible contenders. But she faces a major hurdle overcoming Harris, who declared himself for Missouri AG six months ago.
Harris recently announced that his AG campaign had raised $170,484 in the second quarter, bringing his total balance to $299,133. The press release was posted July 11 on Harris's official AG-campaign website, which he launched last month.
Donnelly, by contrast, reported raising just $6,500 last quarter and has only $33,000 on hand. That may be why heavyweight Harris already appears to be looking beyond the preliminary bout to the title fight.
"I think the Republican Party probably likes the fact I now have to spend money in a primary contest," Harris told the Colombia Tribune on Friday. "But I'm still the guy for AG."
Donnelly told the Tribune she believes she can go dollar for dollar with Harris on campaign fund-raising by "work[ing] hard and talk[ing] with people" on her historic run. She is the first woman to run for Missouri state AG.
Two prominent Missouri Republicans - Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons and Sen. Chris Koster - recently announced they'd both seek the office, although several months after Harris. High-profile US Attorney Catherine Hanaway might also make an AG run for the GOP.