By CHRIS BLANK
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's primary election ballot on Tuesday includes six statewide offices, numerous congressional races and a proposed constitutional amendment.
Among the races is a Republican U.S. Senate primary that has been closely contested. The campaigning has been less vigorous in many other primaries, such as state treasurer, that essentially have been decided.
Election officials estimate that one-quarter of Missouri's registered voters will cast ballots. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Democrat: Claire McCaskill
Republicans: Todd Akin, Jerry Beck, Sarah Steelman, John Brunner, Mark Memoly, Mark Patrick Lodes, Robert (Bob) Poole, Hector Maldonado
Race Overview: Few substantive policy differences separate Republican candidates Congressman Todd Akin, businessman John Brunner and former Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman. They each condemn the federal health care law and promise to cut taxes and spending. Instead, the three have highlighted their backgrounds and claimed to be the most reliably conservative. Akin is endorsed by former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Steelman is backed by former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and Brunner is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Brunner has spent more than $7.5 million of his own money during the campaign. Steelman also has used some of her own money, and is backed by an independent political committee.
In a campaign ad, Steelman mocked Brunner's St. Louis roots and a donation by his family's foundation to an animal organization. Brunner questioned the conservative bona fides of his opponents by pointing to Steelman's votes in the state Legislature and Akin's support for certain federal spending items. Akin asserts he is Missouri's most conservative member of Congress and his ads feature a testimonial from Huckabee.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill faces no opposition in the primary, and her campaign is running ads criticizing all three Republicans, including one that calls Akin "too conservative."
Though many districts feature contested primaries, few have grabbed as much attention as the 1st District, where incumbent William Lacy Clay will face 3rd District Rep. Russ Carnahan. The unusual battle came about after Missouri's Legislature was faced with reducing the state's nine congressional districts to eight following the 2010 Census. The cut came in heavily-Democratic St. Louis, and Carnahan's former 3rd District was wiped off the map - forcing Tuesday's showdown.
Democrats: Jay Nixon, Clay Thunderhawk, William Campbell
Republicans: John Weiler, Dave Spence, Bill Randles, Fred Sauer
Race Overview: Several Republicans, largely unknown until launching their candidacies, have tapped their own finances, but the winner may face an uphill battle in November against a Democratic incumbent who also served in the state Senate and won four terms as attorney general.
The Republicans have focused on the economy and called for making Missouri a "right to work" state, in which union dues cannot be collected as a condition of employment. Businessman Dave Spence promises to create jobs and limit liability lawsuits. Attorney Bill Randles wants to strip state agencies of their authority to make new administrative rules and replace state income taxes with an expanded sales tax. Anti-abortion activist and businessman Fred Sauer also calls for reinstating campaign finance limits.
Gov. Jay Nixon has pointed to how he managed Missouri's finances with regular reminders about the state's credit rating and that taxes have not been increased. He faces nominal opposition in the primary.
Democrats: Susan Montee, Dennis Weisenburger, Fred Kratky, Becky Plattner, Judy Baker, Sara Lampe, Jackie Townes McGee, Bill Haas
Republicans: Charles Kullmann, Brad Lager, Peter Kinder, Mike Carter
Race Overview: The Republican campaign between Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and state Sen. Brad Lager has been the most personally combative, while a crowded field of Democrats has received little attention.
Kinder decided last year to skip an expected gubernatorial campaign and is running for a third term. The 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 campaign ads.
Lager is accused of obscuring his professional background, and a Kinder ad suggests Lager personally profited from the health overhaul through his job at a health care technology company.
Lager says the private sector generally is better than government programs and that the state needs new leadership. Kinder argues his office operates under-budget and points to his efforts to block the federal health care law.
The eight Democrats in the race include the former state auditor, five current or former state lawmakers, a Conservation Commission member and a school board member.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Democrats: Jason Kander and MD Rabbi Alam
Republicans: Scott Rupp, Shane Schoeller, Bill Stouffer
Race Overview: Three Republicans support a requirement that voters show a photo ID at the polls, arguing it would help combat potential fraud. Sen. Bill Stouffer and Rep. Shane Schoeller have sponsored recent legislation to implement the requirement, and Sen. Scott Rupp also proposes to implement technology, such as electronic poll books.
Democratic Rep. Jason Kander announced his candidacy minutes after Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced she would not seek a third term.
Democrat: Clint Zweifel
Republican: Cole McNary
Race Overview: The contest essentially has been decided. Treasurer Clint Zweifel is seeking a second and final term, and state Rep. Cole McNary, a Republican from St. Louis County, is the challenger.
Democrat: Chris Koster
Republicans: Ed Martin and Adam Warren
Race Overview: Ed Martin, the former chief of staff to Republican Gov. Matt Blunt, has adopted a general election posture since stepping away from a congressional bid. Martin has criticized Attorney General Chris Koster and sought to link him to President Barack Obama. Livingston County Prosecutor Adam Warren is the other Republican candidate.
Four years ago, Koster emerged from a Democratic primary with three main candidates. He faces no opposition Tuesday.
The measure would expand an existing section of the Missouri Constitution to state that people can pray in public if they do not disturb the peace, and that a prayer is allowed before government meetings. It would state that students cannot be compelled to participate in school assignments or educational presentations violating their religious beliefs.
Supporters contend it reinforces the right to pray and protects students. Opponents argue the measure could cause confusion over what is allowed and is likely to trigger lawsuits.