Recount picks up votes for Stream, but Stenger still wins

Stenger taking office Thursday, Stream running for Senate

Rick Stream

Photo by John Petersen

Rick Stream

By Gloria Lloyd

Sixth District County Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton, will still take over county government as county executive Thursday after a recount by his opponent, Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, did not recover enough votes to overturn Stenger’s narrow victory.

The two-day recount took place Monday and Tuesday. While Stream recovered some votes, he did not gain enough to significantly close the 1,700-vote gap between votes cast for him and Stenger in the Nov. 4 county executive election. Election officials were not immediately available to discuss the recount Tuesday.

Stream filed the recount request in St. Louis County Circuit Court Dec. 17, the deadline to ask for a recount. He is paying for the recount himself, although the cost has not yet been disclosed.

As the county began the recount Monday, Stream announced he is planning a 2016 run for the Missouri Senate seat held by Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, who will be term-limited out of office and is planning his own 2016 run for state treasurer. Stream is still a state legislator himself until Thursday, when he is term-limited out of office.

In a statement, Stream said he wanted to conduct the recount to ensure all votes were fairly counted. On election day, voters reported that some precincts ran out of paper ballots.

“We also wanted to identify problems in the county’s election system that continues to jeopardize the integrity and accuracy of elections,” Stream said. “We believe it is necessary and constructive to review the information and findings from the recount, and numerous election complaints, and compile recommendations for changes to improve the system. We will work with the Stenger administration and the legislature to make critical changes to improve the accuracy and integrity in future elections.”

Under Missouri law, a recount is triggered if the margin of victory is less than 0.5 percent.

Stenger edged Stream by 0.6 percent, helped by late-reporting precincts from Ferguson and Spanish Lake that came in near midnight.

The 0.58-percent margin of victory — nearly 1,700 votes of more than 290,000 cast — was an “extremely close outcome” that Stream decided to double-check at his own expense “to ensure each vote was counted” after consulting with his campaign’s legal team and election experts, his campaign spokesman Michael Hafner said in a statement.

“We believe the recount process will serve to address problematic areas in Election Day operations and will assist the Board of Elections in identifying any additional issues to ensure accurate and fair voting in the future,” Hafner wrote in the release announcing the recount request, adding that Stream’s campaign team reached out to Stenger’s campaign team to let them know about the recount.

In a statement issued by Stenger’s campaign, Stenger’s team said the county executive-elect is not changing any plans due to the recount.

“We believe county voters had their say in November, and the result is as clear now as it was on election night,” Citizens for Steve Stenger said in the news release.

Stream wished Stenger well and thanked outgoing County Executive Charlie Dooley for his military service and for 36 years of serving elective office in St. Louis County.

“I wish County Executive-elect Stenger the best as he takes the oath of office on Thursday,” Stream said.