- Associated Press - Monday, November 7, 2016

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Candidates for Missouri’s high-profile races crisscrossed the state Monday, making a final push in what is shaping up to be a nail-biter of an election for governor and U.S. Senate.

Polls heading into Election Day showed Republican Donald Trump as the clear favorite over Democrat Hillary Clinton in Missouri, but other key races on Tuesday’s ballot were up for grabs.

Democrat Chris Koster and Republican Eric Greitens were in a virtual tie in their bid for governor. The same was true in the Senate race, where incumbent Republican Roy Blunt is trying to hold off a spirited challenge from Democrat Jason Kander.

Blunt, 66, cited the value of his experience and his willingness to stand up for Missourians in a rally before mostly young Republican volunteers in western St. Louis County, one of seven stops planned for the day. He said control of the Senate is at stake in the Missouri election.

“If I get elected, I’ll be the 51st Republican senator in the new Senate,” Blunt said.

Kander, Missouri’s 35-year-old secretary of state, spent the early part of Monday in the northeast Missouri towns of Kirksville and Hannibal. He was scheduled to appear with Koster at a get-out-the-vote rally Monday night in St. Louis.

In Hannibal, Kander urged volunteers to keep working hard until polls close on Tuesday.

“If you will give me everything you have until 7 p.m. tomorrow, I promise you I will give you everything I have for six years,” he said.

Greitens and Koster also were making several stops across the state. Both are seeking to replace Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who is finishing his second term and is prohibited by term limits from seeking a third.

Koster thanked volunteers planning a blitz of last-minute phone calls and canvassing in Columbia.

“It’s going to be close,” Koster said. “The doors that you knock on today (and) the telephone calls that you make really make a difference.”

Greitens spoke at the Columbia Regional Airport during what was his first of nine planned stops at airports across the state.

In Springfield, civil rights groups that included the NAACP asked Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller to rescind a directive placing police inside polling places, citing concerns about voter intimidation.

The groups said in a letter to Schoeller that the presence of police “has the potential to impede the ability of voters to cast their ballots.”

Schoeller told the Springfield News-Leader he was moving ahead with plans to put deputies at about 45 of the county’s 75 polling places. He said in a statement on Saturday that with more than 100,000 people expected to vote in the county amid “rising tensions,” he wants to be prepared for any occurrence.

The county originally planned for deputies to wear their traditional uniforms. But on Saturday, Schoeller told the News-Leader that some deputies would instead wear plain clothes, with badge and weapon concealed.


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