Missouri choosing new US Senate, House members

For 24 years, Republican Kit Bond has occupied a Missouri seat in the U.S. Senate. Now it will be filled by someone new, yet familiar.

Republican U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt and Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan are competing atop Missouri’s ballot Tuesday to succeed Bond. Both are known names in Missouri politics.

Because he is running for Senate, Blunt’s southwest Missouri House seat also will have a new occupant for the first time in 14 years. And voters could opt for even greater change in Missouri’s congressional delegations.

Longtime Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton, of Lexington, is facing his most formidable challenge in years from Republican Vicky Hartzler. Robin Carnahan’s brother, Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan of St. Louis, also is getting a stronger than usual challenge from Republican Ed Martin.

The U.S. Senate race has dominated the airwaves. Outside groups have spent about $12.5 million on the race, according to the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks political spending. The candidates have exceeded that with their own money.

Blunt, 60, of Springfield, has sought to link Carnahan to the policies of President Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leaders. He has highlighted his opposition to the health care overhaul, federal stimulus act and climate control legislation that he says would raise costs for Missouri electricity customers.

Carnahan, 49, of St. Louis, has tried to portray Blunt as “the very worst of Washington.” She has highlighted his connections to lobbyists, corporate interests and former Republican House members who got caught up in scandals.

Carnahan is the daughter of Gov. Mel Carnahan, who was killed in a plane crash while campaigning for U.S. Senate in October 2000. After he won anyway, her mother — Jean Carnahan — was appointed to a two-year Senate term. Carnahan’s grandfather also has served in Congress.

Blunt is the father of former Gov. Matt Blunt and was himself an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate in 1992 after serving two terms as secretary of state. Blunt’s father, Leroy Blunt, also served in the state Legislature.

About half of Missouri’s registered voters are projected to cast ballots Tuesday.

They also will be electing a state auditor, numerous state House and Senate members and deciding several ballot initiatives. One of those questions would impose restrictions on dog breeders. Another would put earnings taxes in St. Louis and Kansas City to a future referendum. And a third would bar real estate transfer taxes, which are not currently levied in Missouri.

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