ST. LOUIS – Five members of Missouri's congressional delegation tapped enormous advantages in campaign cash and name recognition to easily survive primary election challenges Tuesday.
The winning incumbents -- four Republicans and one Democrat -- will join three others who didn't face primary opponents in advancing to the November general election.
In District 3, U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Miller County topped a four-candidate Republican primary in his bid for a fourth term. The field included Leonard Steinman, a perennial candidate who also had sought election as a Cole County commissioner and Missouri governor. Steinman's wife, Velma, lost a Democratic primary in the same district to Courtney Denton of Arnold.
Luetkemeyer represented District 9 in his first four years in Washington before redistricting after the 2010 Census reduced the state's congressional delegation by one.
In District 4, Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Cass County defeated challenger John Webb in a two-candidate Republican primary. Webb campaigned as the more conservative alternative for party voters. Hartzler will face 25-year-old Democratic challenger Nate Irvin of Columbia in the general election, as well as the winner of a Libertarian primary.
In northern Missouri, seven-term Rep. Sam Graves of Tarkio defeated three challengers in the District 6 Republican primary. He moves on to face W.A. "Bill" Hedge, a St. Joseph pastor and winner of a three-man Democratic primary. Hedge advances after losing the 2012 primary to Kyle Yarber.
In District 7, Rep. Billy Long defeated Marshall Works of Springfield in the Republican primary. Works is a former Democrat who switched sides after finishing last in a four-person Democratic primary in Missouri's 2nd District two years ago. Long will face retired math teacher Jim Evans in a rematch of 2012 general election foes.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City topped four challengers in the primary, including two former Republican candidates. Mark Memoly ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate from Missouri in 2012, while Bob Gough lost a challenge to Graves two years ago in the 6th District.
Cleaver will face GOP challenger Jacob Turk of Lee's Summit, who has lost four previous times against Cleaver but won a four-candidate Republican primary Tuesday.
Two of Missouri's newest members of Congress and one of its longest-serving representatives were able to rest easy Tuesday.
Republican Representatives Ann Wagner of St. Louis County and Jason Smith of Salem both lacked GOP primary opponents for the seats they first occupied less than two years ago. They advance to a general election along with Democrat Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr. of St. Louis, a 14-year incumbent tied with Graves as the longest-serving current member of Missouri's congressional delegation.
Pre-primary campaign finance reports showed that Missouri's eight incumbent members of Congress had nearly $5 million combined in campaign cash -- a sum that dwarfed the less than $100,000 collected by their 38 challengers' campaigns.