Lembke prevails in Senate seat recount

Republican Senator-elect looking forward to serving 1st District

By BURKE WASSON

More than a month after the Nov. 4 election, Republican Rep. Jim Lembke of Le-may is officially the next Missouri 1st District senator.

A recount last week of 88,632 ballots cast in the 1st Senate District, which encompasses south county and south St. Louis city, shows that Lembke eked out a 70-vote win over Democratic challenger and former state Rep. Joan Barry of Oakville.

Barry requested the recount after a state-certified margin of 76 votes was reported Dec. 9. State law allows candidates who lose by less than 1 percent to request a re-count. The recount began Dec. 10 and concluded Dec. 12. Lembke said he is relieved that his election is final and that he will be-gin working shortly for residents.

“I’m certainly glad that the process is complete and that now I don’t have more or less this thing hanging over my head,” Lembke said. “I can start working on legislation attacking a very difficult budget year that we’re going to have and just start working on legislation and good government for the people of the 1st District.”

While Barry’s recount request drew criticism from the Missouri Republican Party as “wasted money, time and effort by public employees” because “experts have said that there is no chance this recount will change the outcome of the election,” Lembke commended Barry for requesting the recount in a responsible manner.

“I think when you go through a tough campaign and you invest a lot of yourself and a lot of resources into it and the law provides for you if you’re within 1 percent the ability to ask for a recount, until you walk in somebody’s shoes you don’t know exactly what you would do in the same situation,” Lembke said. “She certainly had the legal right to do so …

“I think that Mrs. Barry and her attorney were very receptive to making this process move as quickly as possible so that it would not burden not only the taxpayers, but the two boards of elections (in St. Louis County and city). The city has the mayor elections coming up, and they have their hands full.

“They have things they need to do. So quite frankly, I think that they were very easy to work with though this process and I applaud them for that. There were other recounts in the primary cycle that actually the candidate and their attorney insisted that they go through each of the paper rolls on the electronic machines and count every vote individually. And they didn’t insist on that. They took the totals at the end of the roll, which they never change … They were agreeable to work through the process in a very constructive way. They took advantage of what the law allowed and didn’t drag it out.”

Barry was unavailable for comment be-fore press time.