So much for the effectiveness of campaign commercials and bumper stickers: A jail inmate awaiting his second trial on a first-degree murder charge was the choice of 33,004 Minnesotans to be state treasurer.

Leonard J. Richards, 48, finished last among three candidates for the Democratic nomination in Tuesday's primary.

"I have no theory about why anybody would vote for him," said incumbent Michael McGrath, who won the nomination with 148,617 votes.

Richards, who ran for the House in 1974 and the Senate in 1978, was convicted in the 1987 death of his tax attorney. He was granted a new trial by the Minnesota Supreme Court because he was not allowed to be his own attorney in his first trial. That enabled him to file for office since, technically, it set aside his felony conviction.

Richards, who is in the Hennepin County jail, also has been indicted on murder charges in the 1982 death of his half-sister. Her throat was slashed in a crime allegedly motivated by a big insurance award.

"It's impossible for the voters to know a lot about all the candidates," Secretary of State Joan Growe tried to explain. "You have to remember that the primary is just one step along the way. That's one of the reasons we have all these steps, so we don't have these kinds of things."