Ninth Congressional candidates square off in first debate | St. Louis Public Radio

Ninth Congressional candidates square off in first debate

St. Louis, MO – The candidates vying to fill the Congressional seat of Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof were in St. Charles County Wednesday for the first of two debates.

Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer and Democrat Judy Baker, both former state Representatives, echoed themes familiar from the statewide and national trails.

Baker called Luetkemeyer a good man with lots of experience, "but his experience is for a different place and a different time. We have a time of crisis that needs new leadership," she said.

Luetkemeyer told the crowd of mostly students they should not send another "liberal" vote to Washington.

"The failed liberal leadership that has been in place the last two years came in with this chant of change, and they've certainly changed the directions," he said. "We've gone backwards instead of forwards."

Luetkemeyer and Baker generally agreed on the need to get more federal transportation dollars to Missouri. They also agreed on the need to close the US borders to illegal immigration and enforce immigration laws already on the books. But they clashed heavily over taxes

Baker promised a $1250 tax break for nearly every Missouri resident.

"That's what I'll be working on. My opponent on the other hand supports tax cuts for people and millionaires who don't even live in this district," Baker said.

Luetkemeyer supported an extension of the Bush tax cuts, which include relief from estate taxes and the so-called marriage penalty. "It's unconscionable the way that our tax system has developed and evolved into a penalty system rather than a progressive system to allow people to be able to help themselves and their families," he said.

Polls show Luetkemeyer with a sizeable lead. The seat has been solidly in Republican hands since Hulshof defeated the Democratic incumbent in 1996.