- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Just two Republicans have served as Missouri’s secretary of state since World War II, and both had the last name of Blunt.

The GOP is poised to make a strong run at changing that pattern this year, especially if voters also embrace the concept that people should be required to show photo identification at the polls.

Jay Ashcroft, a St. Louis lawyer, has name recognition on his side as the son of John Ashcroft, a former Missouri governor, U.S. senator and U.S. attorney general. He also led all candidates in second-quarter fundraising with more than $211,000, pushing his cash on hand balance to more than $623,000 as of June 30.

His top Republican rival, state Sen. Will Kraus, has spent the last few years in the Legislature championing causes related to the secretary of state’s office. That includes a bill lawmakers passed in May to give the secretary of state the power to investigate voter fraud.

Kraus raised roughly $124,000 in the second quarter and had $797,000 cash on hand.

Both he and Ashcroft claim to have led the charge toward establishing a photo ID law in the state, but in different ways.

Ashcroft says a petition drive he led to get a voter ID measure on the ballot forced the Legislature to pass its own bill putting the issue before voters. Kraus counters that he’s the one who pushed two bills - one that put a constitutional amendment on the ballot and another allowing photo ID at the polls - and that Ashcroft failed to turn in any petitions by the May deadline.

Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the photo ID law, but Kraus thinks there will be plenty of votes to override it in September. Even if an override is successful, the law wouldn’t go into effect unless voters approve the amendment two months later.

The third Republican hopeful, Kansas City educator Roi Chinn, is opposed to photo ID laws and vows to focus instead on improving access for all children to good schools and on his role as the state’s chief business officer.

As of June 30, he had neither raised nor spent more than $500 on his campaign, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The only Republicans to be elected to the office since 1945 were Roy Blunt, who served from 1985 to 1993, and his son Matt Blunt, who held the office from 2001 to 2005.

The Democratic slate is led by retired St. Louis television news anchor Robin Smith, who says her 40 years in the news business have proven her ability to be fair and unbiased. It also won’t hurt that she has name recognition in St. Louis while her husband, former NBA player and University of Kansas Hall of Famer Isaac “Bud” Stallworth, has his share of fans on the Kansas City side, she said.

A staunch opponent of photo ID laws, Smith has an executive master’s degree in international business from St. Louis University that she says makes her uniquely qualified to be secretary of state.

She reported bringing in nearly $163,000 in the second quarter to push her cash on hand total to roughly $227,000.

Neither of her two Democratic opponents, Kansas City residents Bill Clinton Young and MD Rabbi Alam, has reported receiving or spending any money on their campaigns.

Young, an author, said he’s in favor of taxing gun owners and putting the proceeds into a fund that would reimburse homicide victims and families of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

Alam is an information technology specialist who was born in Bangladesh and later joined the U.S. Army and served in Iraq. He touts his military service and previous political excursions as reasons he should be elected to the post.

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