Percentage of Missouri state legislative incumbents facing primaries at its highest since 2014

Thirty-five of the 132 Missouri state legislators running for re-election—13 Democrats and 22 Republicans—face contested primaries. That equals 27% of incumbents seeking re-election, the highest rate since 2014. The remaining 73% of incumbents are not facing primary challengers.

A primary is contested when there are more candidates running than available nominations, meaning at least one candidate must lose. Historically, however, Missouri incumbents tend to win contested primaries.

Since 2014, six state legislative incumbents—four Democrats and two Republicans—have lost to primary challengers in Missouri. This means that during that time, 92% of incumbents in contested primaries advanced to the general election.

This year, at least one incumbent is guaranteed to lose. Two Democratic incumbents—Reps. Mike Person (D) and Raychel Proudie (D)—were drawn into the same St. Louis-area district during the redistricting process. Only one will advance to the general election.

The total number of contested primaries—including those without incumbents—is also up this year, though lower than in 2018. With 180 districts holding elections, there are 360 possible primaries every election cycle.

This year, there are 69 contested primaries—15 Democratic primaries and 54 for Republicans. For Democrats, this is down from 22 in 2020, a 32% decrease. For Republicans, the number increased 29%, from 42 in 2020 to 54 in 2022.

The filing deadline for candidates running for state legislative office in Missouri was March 29. Candidates filed to run for all of the state’s 163 House districts and 17 of the 34 Senate districts.

Forty-nine of those districts were left open, meaning no incumbents filed to run, a lower figure than in recent cycles. This decrease comes as fewer legislators face term limits barring them from seeking re-election compared to recent election cycles.

In 2018, 53 legislators were term-limited, and 42 faced limits in 2020. In both cycles, the Missouri State Legislature was one of the most affected by term limits out of the 15 states with limits nationwide. This year, 24 legislators faced term limits.

Overall, 361 major party candidates filed to run this year: 126 Democrats and 235 Republicans.

Missouri has been a Republican trifecta since the party won the governorship in 2016. Republicans currently hold a 24-10 majority in the Senate and a 108-48 majority in the House.

Missouri’s primaries are scheduled for August 2, the tenth statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

Additional reading:

  1. Missouri State Senate elections, 2022
  2. Missouri House of Representatives elections, 2022
  3. Impact of term limits on state legislative elections in 2022