After 'mini-landslide,' Koenen looks forward to facing Wagner
For Glenn Koenen, his win in the 2nd congressional district Democratic primary amounted to a “mini-landslide” – especially compared to the one vote separating state state Reps. Stacey Newman and Susan Carlson.
Koenen – a Valley Park native who served as executive director for Circle of Concern for 17 years – appears to have edged out Kirkwood attorney Harold Whitfield by a mere 49 votes. George “Boots” Weber, a Eureka resident who has run in numerous campaigns throughout the years, trailed behind the pair by only a small margin.
In an interview with the Beacon, Koenen said he figured the contest would be close because the race wasn’t getting much attention. For one thing, Republican Ann Wagner months ago solidified her hold on the Republican-leaning district that encompasses St. Louis County, St. Charles County and Jefferson County.
For another, the bitter Democratic primary in the 1st congressional district between U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, and U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, got a lot of attention.
“Both Harold and myself have very traditional Democratic values,” Koenen said. “So there wasn’t a whole lot to differentiate. … We weren’t doing television; we weren’t doing a lot of major advertising. It was more going before groups and so on.”
While Koenen declared victory earlier on Wednesday, Missouri state statutes say that a candidate that loses “by less than 1 percent of the votes cast for the office” can request a recount. And Whitfield told the Beacon in a telephone interview that he would ask for a recount.
Koenen said he expects Whitfield to ask for a recount, a move he said was “perfectly logical and proper if it’s that close.”
“However, in recent years with electronic voting machines and the way things are done, it’s rare to see a big change on a recount,” he said. “[Forty-nine] votes would be a pretty big change by modern standards.”
If Koenen ends up being declared the winner, he’ll face a tough challenge beating former Missouri Republican Party chairwoman Ann Wagner. Wagner – who, Koenen noted, raised a significant amount of money for her seat – easily defeated former Webster Groves City Councilman Randy Jotte on Tuesday in the GOP primary.
But Koenen said the 2nd District became more Democratic after redistricting, adding traditionally swing areas such as south St. Louis County and portions of Jefferson County. Carnahan was considering running in the district before deciding to unsuccessfully challenge Clay.
If he’s able to convince independents and some Republicans to vote for him, Koenen said the contest could be competitive.
“If you noticed in the vote totals, about as many Republicans as Democrats picked up ballots yesterday in St. Louis County,” Koenen said. “But I think the Democratic total is going to go much higher for the general election because of President (Barack) Obama and the Claire McCaskill race.”