St. Louis prosecutor chided by Trump wins primary race

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FILE - In a Monday, Jan. 13, 2020 file photo, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner speaks in St. Louis. Gardner is being challenged in the Aug. 4, 2020, Democratic primary by Mary Pat Carl. (AP Photo/Jim Salter, File)

ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, whose job performance has been lauded by some civil rights activists and criticized by President Donald Trump and other leading Republicans, held off a challenge from a former homicide prosecutor in Tuesday’s primary election.

Gardner, 44, defeated Mary Pat Carl in the Democratic primary. She’ll be heavily favored in November against Republican Daniel Zdrodowski since St. Louis voters are overwhelmingly Democratic.

Gardner said her victory is “about people who sent a message that they want reform in the city of St. Louis.”

Gardner has shaken up the St. Louis criminal justice establishment since she was elected in 2016, becoming the city’s first Black circuit attorney. She initiated reforms that have included using diversion programs instead of incarceration, stopped prosecuting low-level marijuana crimes and drew the ire of police leaders when she developed an “exclusion list” of officers who can’t serve as primary witnesses because of unspecified credibility concerns.

But it was her decision to file charges in two high-profile cases that drew the scorn of conservatives.

In 2018, Gardner charged then-Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, with felony invasion of privacy. The charge accused Greitens of taking a compromising photo of a woman during an extramarital affair and threatening to post it if she spoke of their relationship.

Greitens admitted to the affair but denied that he committed a crime. The charge was later dropped. But Greitens, who also was facing unrelated ethics complaints, resigned in June 2018.

Gardner again received national attention last month when she charged a white couple, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, with felony unlawful use of a weapon for displaying guns when protesters marched near their home.