Editorial: Cole County Voters Rejected ‘Climate of Fear’

When voters in Cole County, Mo. reelected an incumbent circuit court judge this month, many of them recognized a “dark money campaign was neither fair nor factual” on behalf of the challenger, a Jefferson City News Tribune editorial said.

Jefferson City is Missouri’s capital, and it is located in Cole County. The editorial was commenting on the race between challenger Brian Stumpe, supported with six-figure spending by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), and incumbent Judge Pat Joyce. The RSLC is a national group based in Washington, D.C.

“We commend Cole County voters for rejecting a climate of fear and for vanquishing it with their votes. They have sent a message that walkers bringing dark money are not welcome here,” the editorial said. The editorial relied on Wikipedia for a definition of dark money as “a term that refers to funds used to pay for an election campaign that are not disclosed to voters prior to voting.” Some of the RSLC money was used for advertising highly critical of the incumbent judge.

Among options to curb the influence of dark money, the editorial said, are requiring greater identification of dark money donors and teaching voters to recognize dark money campaigns.