Skelton faces strong challenge from GOP’s Hartzler

Missouri will have at least one new member of Congress. Voters are deciding whether two or more incumbents also should go.

Longtime Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton, of Lexington, faces a strong challenge in Tuesday’s election from former Republican state lawmaker Vicky Hartzler. A 34-year-year incumbent, Skelton is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and one of the top targets nationally for Republicans as they seek to win control of the House.

Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan, of St. Louis, also faces a stiffer election challenge than usual from Republican Ed Martin, an attorney with tea party backing who was chief of staff for former GOP Gov. Matt Blunt.

Change is guaranteed in southwest Missouri, where Rep. Roy Blunt is vacating his seat to run for the U.S. Senate. Republican Billy Long was the front-runner to replace Blunt in the reliably conservative district against Democratic challenger Scott Eckersley.

Skelton, 78, also represents a district that tilts toward Republicans. But he has managed to consistently win re-election by emphasizing his military expertise and social conservative views. The west-central Missouri district is home to Fort Leonard Wood, Whiteman Air Force Base and the headquarters of the Missouri National Guard. It also has a population of military veterans that is more than one-third greater than the national average.

Skelton has campaigned this year by emphasizing his commitment to military troops and veterans.

Hartzler, 50, of Harrisonville, is a former home economics teacher who with her husband owns several farm equipment dealerships. She won election to the state House in 1994 and served several terms before deciding not to run again in 2000.

Four years later, she served as spokeswoman of a coalition that successfully backed a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. She also has published a how-to-book about political campaigning entitled “Running God’s Way.”

She has suggested Skelton has lost touch with his conservative constituents, asserting he recently has voted with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about 95 percent of the time.


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