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« OK: Inhofe +22 | Blog Home Page | Boyda In The Crosshairs »

Parties Pick Next Hulshof

As Rep. Kenny Hulshof collects establishment support in his bid for governor, the rush to replace the six-term Republican in the northeastern Ninth District of Missouri comes to a head tomorrow when a crowded field that includes a shooting range owner, a former football player and more than a few Democratic hopes of stealing yet another Republican seat.

On the Republican side, former State Tourism director Blaine Luetkemeyer and State Rep. Bob Onder have found the most support and had widely outspent their opponents through the July 16 pre-primary filing deadline. Former Mizzou football standout Brock Olivo, who went on to play for the Detroit Lions, generated some buzz early, but he has yet to convert that to big support. And State Rep. Danielle Moore, who owns the shooting range, had yet to break the $100,000 barrier either, while both Luetkemeyer and Onder neared $500,000 raised.

The Club for Growth could be a big factor in the district. Luetkemeyer has been the target of about $100,000 in advertisements hitting him for his record on taxes and spending, expenditures that will help Onder and other candidates in the end. Both Onder and Luetkemeyer are running television spots in advance of the primary.

Democrats are pinning their hopes on either State Rep Judy Baker or former House Speaker Steve Gaw. Baker has raised more than $405,000 through the pre-primary period, while Gaw had raised about half that amount. Former State Senator Ken Jacob, who ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2004, and Marion County Commissioner Lyndon Bode each had raised about $100,000.

Come November, the primary winners will face off in a district that reaches from the Iowa and Illinois borders in the north and east to the University of Missouri, in Columbia, and the St. Louis outskirts. John McCain is likely to win the district by a margin similar to that of President Bush, who took eighteen-point and thirteen-point majorities in 2004 and 2000.

Still, Democrats are excited by their chances, especially with Barack Obama's commitment to the state and the possibility of a blowout at the gubernatorial level; state Attorney General Jay Nixon leads both Hulshof and Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who also face off tomorrow in the gubernatorial primary, by a wide margin. To show their enthusiasm, the DCCC added the seat to the Red to Blue program, even before a nominee is chosen.

It would be a tremendously uphill fight, but with enough of a wind and a moderate candidate, Democrats hold out hopes of stealing the seat.