State Auditor Nicole Galloway defeated Republican Saundra McDowell to be the only Democrat holding a statewide office.
“To me what this election says is that folks believe in accountability,” Galloway said after her victory Tuesday. “They believe that Jefferson City needs someone that will call the balls and strikes and call out corruption when it happens and hold those accountable for their actions.”
She won with 50 percent of the vote compared to McDowell’s nearly 45 percent, after trailing for much of the night.
This is the first time that Galloway has been elected to the office. In 2015, she was appointed to fill the seat after the death of Tom Schweich. In fact, this was the first election Galloway has ever had an opponent. She was appointed by then-Gov. Jay Nixon to serve as Boone County treasurer in 2011.
Galloway said she believed voters chose her because of her record as state auditor for the last three and a half years.
“What people said through their votes tonight is that they want a qualified, independent watchdog fighting for them at every level of government,” she said. “I have a track record of that and that’s what I will absolutely continue to do.”
The victory could set up Galloway for a run for governor in 2020. While some have touted her as a potential gubernatorial candidate, Galloway has demurred.
“I ran for state auditor because I want to be state auditor,” she said. “I am passionate about this work. We have gotten results over the last three and a half years and I want to continue to do that. I love this work in the auditor’s office.”
Prior to Tuesday’s election Galloway and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill were the only Democrats holding statewide office. McCaskill was ousted by Attorney General Josh Hawley.
Galloway framed her candidacy for auditor as one of “financial responsibility” and reminded voters that she was an auditor by trade as well as a certified public accountant.
McDowell, an attorney, had faced questions about personal financial problems and her residency. She called the allegations “a non-issue.”
She could not be immediately reached for comment for this report.
Galloway far outraised McDowell with more than $1.3 million, compared to $26,000.
Galloway pledged to voters throughout her campaign that she would continue to uncover “millions in government waste, fraud, and abuse” in addition to protecting civilian and family privacy, and representing all Missourians.
She listed pushing a public corruption bill vetoed by former Gov. Eric Greitens through the legislature, and dedicating herself to “fight against the corrupting influence of dark money” as her two main priorities.
Both candidates were dubious about the Clean Missouri initiative, on the ballot as Amendment 1, throughout their campaigns. Under the amendment, which passed by nearly 62 percent, the auditor will nominate a demographer to draw state legislative districts. Galloway said she would work across party lines to select a non-partisan demographer.
“This is someone that should be chosen based on qualifications,” she said. “And because leaders in the Senate are going to be part of the decision-making process, they should be included in how the selection process is designed. So, it should be a transparent process.”
Galloway said she believes she was able to secure victory in the face of a McCaskill defeat because “people want an independent watchdog in the auditor’s office.”
She added, “They know that I’ll hold anyone accountable regardless of partisan politics because I believe it’s my job to stand with taxpayers instead of politicians in Jefferson City.”
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