St. Louis businessman has declared victory in the Republican Party primary for Missouri governor. He is expected to face Democratic Party incumbent Jay Nixon this fall.
"Tonight, Missourians have sent a clear message: It's time to fire Jay Nixon," Spence told supporters during a watch party Tuesday night at the . The announcement happened at about 9:20 p.m.
Spence said Missourians are "ready to restore our state's prosperity" and touted his private-sector experience as former president of St. Louis-based Alpha Packaging.
"Together, we will put our state back to work," Spence said.
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch/KMOV Channel 4 poll published in late July indicated Spence had a commanding lead over opponents , and .
As of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Spence led with 60 percent of the Republican Party vote with about 46 percent of Missouri precincts reporting. Randles held second place with 16 percent of the vote, followed by Sauer (15 percent)
and Weiler (9 percent).
A grass-roots campaign that emphasized putting boots on the ground didn't pay off for Republican gubernatorial candidate Randles on Tuesday.
But at his election-night watch party at in Clayton, the mood was not one of dejection but of perseverance in spreading a conservative message.
"We changed the dialogue in the state, and that's a powerful thing. We are not done," Randles said in his concession speech. His comments were met with thunderous applause. "We are going to change the state and change this nation. It may involve a step or two more than we had hoped."
This is his first run for public office, but he promised supporters at Stratton's it is far from his last.
"This is my calling and Bev's calling for the rest of our lives," Randles said about himself and his wife.
The message resonated with supporters: A cheer of "2016" followed the speeches by Bill and Bev Randles. Both said they are indebted to the service of their supporters and the countless hours they gave to the campaign.
On Tuesday, Sauer thanked a group of about 40 supporters at Chesterfield's Doubletree Hotel.
He thanked them for getting the word out about fighting unlimited campaign contributions, which he said is corrupting state government.
"When people heard our message about how unlimited campaign funding is changing state government, it resonated with them. They understand it," Sauer said.
He said one such example is the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA), which he said would have provided hundreds of millions of dollars over 25 years to fund embryonic stem cell research and cloning efforts.
"How did it pass the Missouri legislature? Because of unlimited campaign funding," Sauer said.
Sauer proposed limiting campaign contributions to $2,500. He also formed the Missouri Roundtable for Life, which fought against MOSIRA, and filed a lawsuit that stopped it.
"For me this was a win because I met wonderful people all around our state who heard our message and agreed with it," Sauer said.
Spence hosted a watch party for several hundred people in the Clayton Ballroom at the . Some attendees stood, nursing beer and glasses of La Terre wine while visiting before the candidate's arrival. Others sat at tables placed throughout the room.
Screens on either side of a stage displayed live election coverage from St. Louis-area media and web-based updates from the Missouri Secretary of State's Office. Red, white and blue balloons had been placed at intervals along a far wall.
"The battle begins tonight, folks," said Malcolm Briggs, a representative of the Spence campaign, during brief remarks to the crowd. He encouraged them to make a donation in anticipation of the November election.
Briggs said that the governor's house needs a chief executive officer and that Spence would be a good one.
The election for governor is Nov. 6.