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GOP expands majority in Missouri Legislature

GOP expands majority in Missouri Legislature

November 3rd, 2010 by CHRIS BLANK, Associated Press in News

The big election night for Republicans extended into the Missouri Legislature, where the GOP expanded its control of the state Senate and state House.

Pushed forward by a strong political wind at their back, the Republicans knocked off two Democratic state senators seeking re-election to their rural districts and numerous Democratic House members. The election gains cemented the GOP's roughly decade-long control of the state Legislature

In all, the Republicans appeared to control more than 100 of the 163 House seats, which is their largest majority since regaining control of the House in 2002 after roughly half a century in the minority. The GOP entered the election Tuesday with 88 seats. It takes 82 seats to control the chamber.

Republicans also picked up seats in the 34-member state Senate. They started the election with 23 seats. In the Senate, it takes 18 seats to control the chamber.

Significant turnover was expected in the Missouri Legislature this year because many incumbents were barred by term limits from seeking re-election. The entire House was up for election, and half the seats in the state Senate were on the ballot.

House Republicans also picked up open seats that were being vacated by Democrats. Among the seats the GOP seized were those held by the departing top two Democratic House leaders, who were forced out by term limits.

The Republicans also knocked off Rep. Jeff Roorda, who had been a member of the House Democratic leadership and was seeking a fourth term. Roorda, of Barnhart, was defeated by Republican Paul Wieland.

The House Democrats' defeats came from across the state.

Democrats in northern Missouri, the southwestern and southeastern corners, near Kansas City and in the St. Louis-area were defeated.

Republicans also did well in the state Senate.

Many of those races were either uncontested or prompted a challenge only from a third party candidate. However, two of the most heavily contested races where won by Republicans challenging sitting senators.

Republican state Rep. Brian Munzlinger, of Williamstown, defeated Democratic Sen. Wes Shoemyer, of Clarence, for a rural northeastern Missouri district. And Republican state Rep. Dan Brown, of Rolla, knocked off Democratic Sen. Frank Barnitz, of Lake Spring, in a largely rural district in central Missouri.

The Republicans also were holding a narrow lead for an open St. Louis-area state Senate seat that had been held by a Democrat.