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ST. LOUIS – Embattled St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner fended off a primary challenge from former city prosecutor Mary Pat Carl in decisive fashion.

Gardner, who will be favored to win re-election in November, defeated Carl by a 61-39 margin. More than 71,000 votes were cast in the race for circuit attorney; Gardner won more than 43,000 of them.

Gardner will face Republican Daniel Zdrodowski in the general election this fall.

Carl issued a concession on Twitter and wished Gardner a successful term.

This was not the first time the two have appeared against one another on a ballot. In 2016, they ran to replace retiring circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce. Gardner won the four-person Democratic primary with 47 percent of the vote. Carl finished in second place with 24 percent.

Gardner was unopposed in the November 2016 general election, becoming the city’s first Black circuit attorney. Carl, who was the city’s lead homicide prosecutor for 15 years, left the circuit attorney’s office after Gardner was elected.

Gardner ran on a platform of reforming the local criminal justice system by addressing racial disparities in prosecutions and reducing violent crime.

Carl pledged to hold violent criminals to account while steering first-time, non-violent offenders toward diversion programs.

In an October 2019 interview withy FOX 2, Carl said the circuit attorney’s office was experiencing massive turnover and it was affecting prosecution of violent criminals. Gardner’s office disputed those claims. A spokesperson for the circuit attorney’s office said Carl was cherry-picking data and misrepresenting the facts.

In the run-up to the August primary, both Gardner and Carl agreed that the St. Louis Workhouse, a medium-security prison that houses the city’s non-violent offenders, should be closed.

Gardner gained national attention last month over her decision to charge a St. Louis couple who stood in front of their Central West End home with firearms pointed in the direction of protesters who were marching to the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson. Her decision drew criticism from Governor Mike Parson and President Donald Trump. Gardner said both were engaging in “dog-whistle attacks” against her.

In January 2020, Gardner filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city, the St. Louis Police Officers Association, and others, accusing them of a racist conspiracy to drive her out of office.

And in February 2018, Gardner filed an invasion of privacy charge against then-Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. The circuit attorney’s office later filed a charge of tampering with computer data against the governor that April.

Greitens was accused of taking a picture of his blindfolded and bound mistress. The governor insisted that he never took such a picture and prosecutors never found one. The case was eventually dismissed.

Meanwhile, Gardner’s former private investigator—William Don Tisaby—faces perjury charges for his role in the case.

Greitens called the ordeal a conspiracy to overturn his 2016 election. He resigned as governor on June 1, 2018.