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GOP eyes Missouri auditor's office as vulnerable

GOP eyes Missouri auditor's office as vulnerable

November 2nd, 2010 by By CHRIS BLANK, Associated Press in News

The Missouri auditor's race has gotten little attention, but if polls are any indication, it could be among the most interesting on Tuesday.

Republican challenger Tom Schweich has presented a tough challenge to Democratic incumbent Susan Montee, who has faced a political headwind this year like other Democrats. Schweich also has tried to link her with President Barack Obama, of whom she was an early supporter two years ago.

The auditor's campaign has taken place largely in the shadows of Missouri's contentious U.S. Senate campaign, and Schweich and Montee have each touted their credentials and attempted to create doubts about the other's political independence.

Schweich, 50, is an attorney and former State Department official who has worked on anti-terrorism, anti-narcotics and other law enforcement issues in Afghanistan and several other countries. He had never sought elected office.

Montee, 51, is an accountant and lawyer and was first elected in 2006. She based much of her campaign on her experience as a lawyer and a certified public accountant.

A victory by Schweich would cut into the Democrats' control of Missouri's executive branch. The auditor's office is the only statewide post in Missouri government on the ballot this year.

Sitting state auditors generally have done well at the polls. Just two incumbents - Republican John Ashcroft and Democrat Haskell Holman - have lost over the last 40 years. Ashcroft was appointed to fill an uncompleted term and lost his bid to remain in office.

The Missouri auditor is responsible for reviewing state agencies, boards and commissions to ensure money is spent efficiently. The office also conducts performance audits focusing on agencies' management practices.