Stenger wins St. Louis County Executive primary, but recount looms

CLAYTON, Mo. - Incumbent Steve Stenger defeated Mark Mantovani to win the Democratic primary and, effectively, ensure he'll keep his job as St. Louis County Executive.

Without a well-known Republican challenger looming in the fall, the Democratic primary turned into the de facto election for the post, with both candidates spending accordingly.

According to our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Stenger spent more than $3 million on the race, while Mantovani spent approximately $2 million in a mostly self-financed campaign.

The election results were delayed because a few polling locations in select precincts failed to properly close out the voting machines. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, the unofficial results had 91,487 votes for Stenger and 90,330 votes for Mantovani, a difference of less than one percent.

St. Louis County authorities said recounts are ordered for local races when the result is within one percent, but the loser has to request a recount.

Mantovani left his watch party just after midnight Tuesday and said he would issue a statement Wednesday morning.

While addressing supporters shortly before departing, Mantovani joked he that he wrote two speeches and wouldn't be able to deliver either one Tuesday night.

Mantovani shared an anecdote with the audience about visiting the election board earlier this year after filing the paperwork for his candidacy. According to Mantovani, the election board were showing him voting machines and told him they were purchased in 2004 and "had a 10-year use for life" and were thus antiquated equipment.

During the campaign, Stenger cast doubt on Mantovani's Democratic bonafides, citing the latter's support of John McCain and Mitt Romney in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, as well as backing Eric Greitens in the 2016 Missouri gubernatorial race.

For his part, Mantovani accused Stenger of corruption, evidenced by reports that Stenger donors received lucrative business deals in the county.

The Republican primary saw Paul Berry III defeat Daniel Sampson for a spot on the November ballot, joining Libertarian candidate Nick Kasoff and Constitution Party candidate Andrew Ostrowski.