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August 06, 2008

Hulshof To Face Nixon

Rep. Kenny Hulshof fended off State Treasurer Sarah Steelman to secure the GOP nomination for governor last night, setting up a battle with Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon in November.

Hulshof, the favorite of the party establishment, won 49% of the vote to Steelman's 45% with all the state's precincts reporting. Nixon easily outpaced his token opposition to capture 85% of the vote, setting up what is expected to be one of the few competitive governor's races this year.

While Nixon has essentially been running for governor for four years, incumbent Republican Matt Blunt's surprise decision to retire after just one term forced Hulshof and Steelman into a six-month sprint to yesterday's primary. Now, Nixon has a big warchest, with $2.9 million on hand a week before the primary, while Hulshof had to spend most of his money to get past Steelman.

Most public polls had shown Nixon leading both Republicans by wide margins, and above the critical 50% threshold. The latest available, conducted for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in early July, showed Nixon leading Hulshof 52%-35%.