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JEFFERSON CITY • The defeat of a Republican-led bid to make Missouri a “right to work” state Tuesday probably means the issue will be off the table for at least a year, some GOP lawmakers say.

Rep. Bill White of Joplin, who won the GOP primary for an open Senate seat representing southwestern Missouri, said he did not expect legislative leaders to push for the issue after it was dumped by voters in a bipartisan 67-percent-to-32 percent result.

“I will probably file my right-to-work bill next year, but it is not going to go to the floor,” said White, who favors the measure. “I do not anticipate it moving beyond a committee hearing.”

Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, who had committed to advocating for the law when he took office June 1, was silent Wednesday on whether he would push for the Legislature to make another run at the measure.

In his first statement on the crushing outcome, issued 22 hours after the polls closed, Parson said, “Last night, the people of Missouri voiced their opinion on Proposition A. However, I am still absolutely optimistic about the future of Missouri and convinced that there are significant and exciting opportunities to come.”

Parson pledged to work across party lines to bring economic growth to the state on infrastructure and workforce development — “areas that I firmly believe we can find common ground to make lasting impacts for future generations of Missourians.”

The 32nd Senate district in southwestern Missouri was among the few bright spots for supporters of the initiative, which asked whether the Show-Me State wanted to join 27 others in allowing private-sector workers to not pay dues to a labor organization.

In that corner of the state, a majority of voters in eight counties bordering Arkansas and Oklahoma — both right-to-work states — favored the referendum. The state’s two most southern counties, Pemiscot and Dunklin, both bordering Arkansas, also supported the law.

In all, just 15 of the state’s 114 counties supported the measure, called Proposition A.

White has been an ardent supporter of right to work, which business groups argue will help draw more companies and jobs to Missouri. Since he was elected to the House, he has filed a right-to-work bill in seven consecutive legislative sessions.

Now, however, he said it could be years before a serious push was made to get it into law.

“I think that is the likely course of events,” White told the Post-Dispatch.

A post-election review shows the proposition was deeply unpopular not only with Democrats but also with Republicans.

Based on a comparison of voting in the U.S. Senate primary races and Proposition A, an estimated 50 percent of GOP voters cast ballots that said “no” to the right-to-work law.

Unofficial tallies show 605,503 Democrats voted in the Senate Democratic primary, while 663,553 Republicans voted in the GOP primary. Yet, the number of “no” votes cast for the proposition zoomed to 937,241.

Assuming the vast majority or all Democrats voted “no,” as many as 331,000 Republicans bolted from their party on the issue.

The proposition also may have contributed to a surge in voter turnout. Unofficial totals show that about 33.5 percent of the roughly 4.1 million registered voters in the state cast a ballot. By contrast, turnout in the previous two primary elections was about 25 percent.

That turnout may have been fueled by massive spending by labor unions, who say right to work hurts the middle class by lowering wages. Supporters of the proposition acknowledged Tuesday they had been outworked.

“Unfortunately, the unions used their massive cash advantage to drown out our positive economic message,” said Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Dan Mehan.

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, a vocal backer of right to work, said she was committed to keeping the issue alive.

“This fight is not going away, and I look forward continuing to push for labor reform,” said Rehder, who did not offer a timeline on when the issue might again come up in the Legislature. Voters in her southeastern Missouri district rejected the proposal.

Rep. Bart Korman, R-High Hill, who voted against the law, said supporters should take a breather.

“My advice would be to listen to the vote of the people and probably set that aside for a while. At this point, the vote speaks pretty soundly,” said Korman, who is term-limited and not seeking re-election.

Korman’s district includes Warren County, which is home to some of the 4,000 union employees at the General Motors assembly in nearby Wentzville. Voters there shot down the issue, 72 percent to 28 percent.

Rep. Kathie Conway, a term-limited St. Charles Republican who also voted “no” on right to work in the Legislature, said it would not be wise for Republicans to bring up the issue when lawmakers reconvene in January.

“In my humble opinion, next year’s not the time to bring this up again,” Conway said. “It’s a huge distraction, and we have a presidential election in 2020. I think that it kind of sucks all the oxygen out of the room for other issues.”

Conway said Republicans “shot themselves in the foot” by moving the referendum to August from November.

They took “three months of educational time away from themselves,” Conway said.

In St. Charles County, traditionally a GOP bastion, 68 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of scrapping the law.

Kurt Erickson is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Jack Suntrup is a reporter at the Post-Dispatch