Missouri races for attorney general usually are sort of mild political bouts. But this year’s Republican primary race between state Sen. Kurt Schaefer and Josh Hawley, a Mizzou law school faculty member, is a slugfest. Both are from Columbia. 

Voters Aug. 2 will decide who will be nominated for the general election in November. Incumbent Attorney General Chris Koster is running for governor on the Democratic ticket. The state has not had a Republican attorney general for many years. 

An unusual amount of money is being spent by the two GOP candidates. Hawley has received more than $2.2 million from a businessman in southwestern Missouri, David Humphreys and his family. Money-bags Rex Sinquefield, St. Louis, a retired investor, has given more than $750,000 directly to Schaefer. Political action committees financially supported by Sinquefield have given Schaefer more than $2 million in cash and in-kind contributions.

Why is so much money being given to attorney general candidates?

There are two Democratic primary election candidates for attorney general. They are a former Cass County prosecutor, Teresa Hensley, and St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman.

The office pays $116,000 a year. Its main responsibilities are to prosecute consumer fraud, serve as a watchdog for nursing homes, handle appeals of felony criminal cases and is the state’s attorney when state law is challenged. There are other duties, such as being a legal guardian of Sunshine Laws.

Hawley and Schaefer have run attack ads in the race, which also includes ethics complaints and lawsuits. Hawley has never run for office before.

Schaefer is critical of Hawley’s lack of experience and points out that Hawley has never prosecuted cases. Schaefer is a former assistant attorney general and while in the Missouri Senate he chaired the powerful Appropriations Committee. When it comes to experience, Schaefer is out in front.

But the question that keeps nagging us, why is so much money being spent in this campaign?