St. Louis – Members of two political dynasties in Missouri will head to Washington in November.
Republican Roy Blunt swept into the Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Kit Bond, handing an easy defeat to Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.
Blunt's son, Andy introduced the Senator-elect to an enthusiastic audience at the University Plaza Convention Center in Springfield, which spent spent the evening cheering on Republican victories in other parts of the country while waiting for Missouri's results to come in.
Blunt pledged to work to create a business-friendly environment
"We've got to get focused on the things that matter," he said. "Government jobs don't pay the bill, government jobs are the bill. "you need some of them, but if they get out of proportion to the rest of the economy, the rest of the economy doesn't grow."
Blunt's win was part of a nationwide GOP surge that saw Republicans regain control of the U.S. House and fall just short of retaking the U.S. Senate.
"I think we ran on issues and ideas," said his campaign manager, Ann Wagner. "I think a choice between the two candidates was very, very clear, and I really feel like he went out in a retail way and reached out to each and every Missourian that he could possibly get in touch with out there."
Blunt won every rural Missouri county, along with the suburban counties of St. Charles, Franklin, Jefferson, Clay, Platte, and eastern Jackson County. Carnahan won in St. Louis City and County, and in Kansas City.
Blunt is scheduled to return to Washington this week, where he'll serve out the remainder of his term in the U.S. House while preparing to move over to the Senate.
Blunt's opponent, Robin Carnahan, conceded before the results were final.
"I have good news and bad news tonight" she told Democratic supporters gathered in downtown St. Louis. "Let me give you the bad news first I think you already know, we didn't win this election tonight. But, there is still good news to be had."
That good news, Carnahan said, was the sense of shared sacrifice she saw as Missourians worked together to overcome the challenges facing Missouri. She urged her supporters to "never let the fire go out," a line from the eulogy of her father Mel, who died in a plane crash 10 years ago.
Carnahan told reporters later she blamed her defeat partially on changes to campaign finance rules she said give too much power to the voices of corporations and special interests.
"In the end when you have $8 million or $9 million coming in from Karl Rove and a lot of these unknown sources, its hard to fight that kind of tsunami," she said. "And it didn't just happen in Missouri, its happening all over the country. In the end we have to decide as a society if we think that campaigns should be financed that way."
Carnahan's brother Russ narrowly held onto his seat in the Third Congressional District, defeating Republican Ed Martin - the former chief of staff to Gov. Matt Blunt, Roy Blunt's son - by less than 5,000 votes.
"We expected a tough and close race in this election cycle" Russ Carnahan told the crowd. "That's why we did everything we could go run the kind of campaign to be sure that we had the message and funding and new media and traditional grass-roots efforts."
Carnahan said he was prepared to serve in the minority.
"These kinds of swings come with the territory," he said. "These sorts of ups and downs are going to continue. The Democratic Party, I think, still has a very strong economic message on how to grow us out of this deepest and longest recession in a generation."
Martin had not conceded the election by Wednesday morning. He has called for an investigation into incidents that "concerned" the campaign.
"We had the Secretary of State, she was unable to keep the database up. We also have a problem in the St. Louis City Board of Elections where they actually hired a security service that was on the payroll of Congressman Carnahan," Martin said. The Secretary of State is Russ Carnahan's sister Robin.
The close contest, Martin said, brought "good news" to the Third District.
"When we started this campaign we told people we would continue to fight for the values, for the people, for the vision, of this district and these neighborhoods and these families, and that's what we're going to continue to do," he said.
Incumbents held on to seats in the First and Second districts with little trouble. But in the biggest upset of the night in Missouri, although expected, former state Representative Vicky Hartzler knocked off 17-term incumbent Ike Skelton in the Fourth District. Republicans also defeated incumbent state auditor Susan Montee, who lost to former Bush administration official Thomas Schweich 51 percent to 45 percent.
--Adam Allington and Marshall Griffin contributed to this report