St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger held off a formidable primary threat from Democratic opponent Mark Mantovani at the polls on Tuesday.
Political observers contend Stenger’s victory will insure that he will maintain the county’s top office. They note that Stenger will face an underfunded and low-profile challenger on the Republican side in the Nov. 6 general election.
Stenger’s margin of victory was a bit more than 1,000 votes out of more than 180,000 votes cast. Paul Berry III, who will be Stenger’s Republican challenger in November, handily defeated Daniel Sampson on Tuesday in the GOP primary for county executive.
In an Aug. 8 statement, Mantovani said he would not contest the election.
“We’ve been advised that there are uncounted and outstanding provisional ballots that currently exceed the current difference between the Stenger and Mantovani vote totals,” Mantovani said. He said he will allow the election board to certify the results according to its normal procedures.
“I want to thank the Democratic voters of St. Louis County for their continued support,” said Stenger in a victory lap speech on Wednesday after Tuesday’s vote returns. “This was a long, hard fought campaign but this victory shows that voters believe we are moving St. Louis County in the right direction.”
Mantovani insisted throughout the campaign that residents do not believe the county is moving in the right direction. Mantovani said they were not happy with what he called Stenger’s “pay-to-play” politics in which donors were the recipients of county contracts.
Mantovani also accused Stenger of a lack of leadership that resulted in a dysfunctional county council and ethics inquiries into some of Stenger’s actions in office. Stenger dismissed the actions and the accusations against him as election year politics.
Stenger painted Mantovani as a closet Republican who contributed to the campaign of now disgraced Republican Gov. Eric Greitens. Greitens resigned from office earlier this year amidst a number of scandals.
Stenger also touted accomplishments such as the passage of Proposition P to fund county law enforcement, a prescription drug monitoring program, and economic development that he said created or retained 30,000 jobs in St. Louis County.
Stenger, 46, served as a county councilman from the 6th District from 2009-2014, and became counrty executive in 2015. He has a B.A. from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a law degree from St. Louis University. He is married with two children.