Missouri voters deciding several statewide races

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's election Tuesday wraps up six campaigns for statewide offices and will decide in the presidential race who will claim the state's 10 votes in the Electoral College.

The most closely watched race has been a U.S. Senate campaign that could help determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the chamber. On the opposite end, the presidential race has been comparatively sleepy in Missouri.

Missouri election officials estimate 72 percent of the state's registered voters will cast ballots, which would exceed the turnout from four years ago. Polls are open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.

PRESIDENT

Democrat: Barack Obama

Republican: Mitt Romney

Race Overview: There have been no presidential race rallies, debates or public events this fall. President Barack Obama has not invested heavily in Missouri after losing narrowly four years ago despite opening 44 field offices and creating 400 "neighborhood teams" responsible for coordinating efforts in local precincts. Mitt Romney stopped briefly at the airport in Kansas City in September while his plane refueled. The unscheduled stop has been his only visit to Missouri since claiming the GOP nomination.

The non-existent presidential campaign comes immediately after the 2008 race was just the second time in more than a century that Missouri was not claimed by the winning presidential candidate.

U.S. SENATE

Democrat: Claire McCaskill

Republican: Todd Akin

Race Overview: Already key for control of the U.S. Senate, the contest flipped less than two weeks into the campaign when Todd Akin was asked whether abortion should be legal for women who have been raped and said: "From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." The comments prompted calls from national Republicans for the suburban St. Louis Congressman to drop out, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Akin also lost millions of dollars in advertising.

Akin has apologized numerous times. The statement still played into the campaign theme of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who has worked to portray him as out of the mainstream and ran ads during the GOP primary calling Akin "too conservative." Akin has kept support from smaller donors and gotten help from national leaders Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich.

Akin regularly has linked McCaskill to the president. He contrasts his calls for smaller government with her votes for the 2009 economic stimulus and the 2010 federal health care law. He also has criticized McCaskill because businesses affiliated with her husband received federal housing subsidies during her first five years in office. McCaskill voted for some of the bills — and against others — that funded the departments that provide the subsidies.

Both candidates have said voters have a clear choice. They voted differently on the stimulus and the bank bailout, and McCaskill supports increasing the federal minimum wage while Akin does not. Akin has supported Medicare proposals to provide subsidies to purchase private insurance policies while McCaskill calls that privatization. McCaskill supports availability for emergency contraception, and Akin has said he considers it to be a form of abortion and opposes abortion except when the procedure is necessary to save the mother's life.

GOVERNOR

Democrat: Jay Nixon

Republican: Dave Spence

Race Overview: The name of the game has been Missouri's economy. Gov. Jay Nixon contends it is improving while pointing to a declining unemployment rate. St. Louis businessman Dave Spence argues Missouri is lagging behind neighboring states and needs new leadership. He points to his experience in the private sector.

Spence wants to limit liability lawsuits, eliminate burdensome government regulations and make Missouri a "right to work" state, in which union dues cannot be collected as a condition of employment. He has promised a personal involvement in economic development efforts.

Nixon points to his management of Missouri's finances and touts the state's credit rating with reminders that taxes have not increased. He highlights his efforts to help the automotive industry and work with Republicans. Nixon spent 16 years as the state's attorney general and is trying to become the first Missouri governor to win re-election since 1996.

The race turned testy. Nixon's TV ads suggest Spence bought a vacation home using federal bailout money given to the bank upon which he served on the board of directors. Spence sued Nixon for defamation, stating the bailout money was not used for his home and that the loan provided the bank reliable mortgage payments. Spence said Nixon "sold his soul to the devil" to win re-election.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

Democrat: Susan Montee

Republican: Peter Kinder

Race Overview: Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder is seeking a rare third term after deciding last year to skip an expected gubernatorial campaign. That decision came after he personally reimbursed the state more than $54,000 for lodging expenses for hundreds of nights in St. Louis hotels. He also has acknowledged frequenting an Illinois strip club in the 1990s. Both issues have appeared in a campaign ad against him.

Kinder points to his legal challenges against the federal health care law and efforts to support a senior prescription drug benefit program. He highlights that his office has operated under-budget and his experience administering some of the governor's duties during his first term. He links Democratic opponent Susan Montee to President Barack Obama.

Montee lost re-election as state auditor in 2010 and contends that the lieutenant governor's duties in advocating for seniors and military veterans have been neglected by Kinder. She plans to devote a staff member to coordinate seniors issues and one for veterans issues.

Also running is Constitution Party candidate Cynthia Davis, who served four terms in the state House as a Republican. Davis is endorsed by Missouri Right to Life.

SECRETARY OF STATE

Democrat: Jason Kander

Republican: Shane Schoeller

Race Overview: Election issues have played a central role in a contest between two state House colleagues seeking the only open statewide office.

Republican Shane Schoeller plans to push for a requirement that voters show a photo ID at the polls and wants to create a commission to hear complaints about the fairness and accuracy of ballot summaries for initiatives. Democrat Jason Kander says recent photo ID proposals have been "extreme and unfair." As an alternative, he points to an Idaho policy that allows voters who do not bring a required photo ID to sign a sworn affidavit and then cast a standard ballot. Kander says the ballot commission would inject unnecessary politics into writing summaries.

Kander also criticizes legislation sponsored this year by Schoeller that deals with absentee voting and argues that it would have restricted absentee ballots from being cast by mail and made it harder for those in the military to vote. Schoeller calls that ridiculous.

On non-election issues, Kander wants to waive fees for starting a business for those in the Missouri National Guard or military. Schoeller pledges to combat excessive government regulations.

TREASURER

Democrat: Clint Zweifel

Republican: Cole McNary

Race Overview: The campaign has received the least attention of the statewide races. Treasurer Clint Zweifel is seeking a second term and points to successes in stabilizing the state's investment portfolio during the recession and efforts to persuade lawmakers to remove the cap on the interest state government can earn for deposits and to broaden a low-interest business loan program.

Treasurers are limited to two, four-year terms. Zweifel would be the first to win re-election in 16 years.

Cole McNary, a Republican state lawmaker from St. Louis County, is challenging Zweifel. He wants to review the state's pension obligations, shrink state government and assist with long-term budgeting.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Democrat: Chris Koster

Republican: Ed Martin

Race Overview: The race has been feisty with numerous barbs and two candidates who present significantly different takes on the office. Attorney General Chris Koster trumpets his prosecutorial background, highlights public safety issues and contends that he has spent four years seeking to manage an "outstanding law office." Ed Martin, who served as chief of staff to Republican Gov. Matt Blunt, wants to fight government overreach and the federal health care overhaul. He says the attorney general should be Missouri's chief legal leader.

Martin calls Koster "Obama's lawyer" and says the incumbent has been political and demonstrated little leadership. He is trying to claim the attorney general's office for Republicans for the first time since 1993.

Koster in ads calls Martin "unfit" and "unqualified" to be attorney general. He has highlighted several controversies from Martin's tenure as Blunt's chief of staff.

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