In the supposed year of the outsider, Missouri didn’t get the memo.
The race for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat, expected to be one of the most competitive in the nation, pits seven-term Rep. Roy Blunt, former No. 2 in the HouseGOP leadership, against Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat who was born into one of the state’s most prominent political dynasties.
Their resumes and pedigrees bring Mr. Blunt and Mrs. Carnahan nearly 100 percent name recognition in the state, according to a recent poll. But they also could be handicaps among independent voters, whose numbers are difficult measure in Missouri and who have shown a taste for non-establishment candidates across the country.
Though Mr. Blunt has held the more prominent elected offices, both candidates have deep family ties in state politics.
Mr. Blunt, 60, is the son of a southwestern Missouri dairy farmer and state legislator. In a political career dating back to the mid-1970s, he has been a county clerk, Missouri secretary of state, president of his alma mater Southwest Baptist University, and a House member since 1996, at one point serving as House minority whip.
Mrs. Carnahan, a 49-year-old cancer survivor raised on a south-central Missouri farm, has political roots that date from the 1950s, when her grandfather, A.S.J. Carnahan, was a House member. Her father, Mel Carnahan, was Missouri governor from 1993 until he died in a 2000 plane crash. His wife and the candidate’s mother, Jean Carnahan, was appointed to the seat for a year, then was replaced in a special election.
The race to succeed retiring Sen. Christopher S. Bond, a Republican, is crucial to GOP hopes of capturing the 10 seats needed to win back control of the Senate. Most consider that aspiration a long shot, but forecasters say Republicans’ chances are rising.
Although Mrs. Carnahan has long been seen as the Democrats’ best hope to capture Mr. Bond’s seat, polls suggest Mr. Blunt has done well early in the race. He leads by 51 percent to 40 percent, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey released last week, although a second poll conducted for the Missouri State University Center for Social Sciences and Public Policy Research had the two deadlocked at 48 percent each.
The Blunt and Carnahan campaigns have followed the narrative that has played out through the 2010 election cycle: She is on the defensive for her links to the agenda of President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress, while Mr. Blunt is under attack as a career Washington insider and a supporter of the unpopular Wall Street bailout plan.
Both candidates are experienced campaigners, and both can boast a campaign chest of roughly $4 million. With name recognition and campaign resources not at issue, the winner could be decided on the merits of controlling the narrative of the debate.
“This race will be more negative than the typical statewide race,” said Terry Jones, a political science professor at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. “But turning this into a Hatfield versus McCoys would not be accurate.”
The Blunt campaign recently posted - then swiftly took down - an Internet video that showed the smoking rubble of the World Trade Center towers as Mrs. Carnahan said New Yorkers should decide whether an Islamic center and mosque should be built near the site of the terrorist attack. The campaign apologized.View Entire Story
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