John Brunner

Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. –  From U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt on down, Missouri Republicans at the party’s annual Lincoln Days festivities are full of confidence about their chances at the polls this fall and in 2016.

And the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,’’ is getting much of the credit.

“If this disaster doesn’t help us take control of the Senate, it will surprise me,” said Blunt, who sparked several ovations at Friday night’s opening banquet of the weekend gathering, held this year at the University Plaza Hotel in Springfield, the senator's home turf.

(via John Brunner for Senate; file photo; Wikimedia Commons/U.S. House of Representatives).

Most of the people gathered outside of Washington University’s Edison Theater before a recent GOP Senate Primary debate already knew who they were voting for.  

But Shelby Hewerdine wasn’t sure yet.

So, she drove in from St. Charles to get a better feel for the character of each candidate.

“I don’t know how else people are going to look at it because they are very similar on the issues, so, we’ll see,” Hewerdine said.  

And during the debate, the three main candidates laid out basically the same policy platform. 

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The three Republicans vying for the right to challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in November didn't stray far from the party's script at a debate in St. Charles last night.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

US Chamber of Commerce weighs in on Missouri's GOP Senate primary

The US Chamber of Commerce has made an endorsement in the three-way Republican Senate primary in Missouri.

The chamber on Tuesday backed former Vi-Jon chairman John Brunner, saying his private sector experience in cutting spending and balancing budgets provides the best contrast with Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

A report issued Monday by Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri concludes that US House members circumvented a ban on earmark spending more than 100 times. (read full report here)

House Republicans banned earmarks last fall for two years to curb government spending. But, McCaskill's report finds that the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee used tricks to allow more than $800 million in earmarks be inserted in the 2012 Defense authorization bill.

(via Flickr/Senator McCaskill)

Missouri's Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill introduced legislation Wednesday to put a permanent ban on earmarks, the legislative practice of funding specific projects.

Currently, there is a temporary ban on earmarks in place.

Speaking to reporters during a conference call this morning, McCaskill says projects need to compete on merit.

(via John Brunner for Senate)

Updated 2:11 p.m. with details

The Republican race to challenge U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill in 2012 is officially a three-way contest.

John Brunner, chairman of St. Louis-based Vi-Jon, Inc.,which makes Germ-X hand sanitizer and other personal care products,  has officially entered the race.

Brunner made the announcement via a 10:45 a.m. press conference Monday. Here are his prepared remarks for you to review.

Brunner, a former Marine, describes himself on his Twitter profile and Facebook page as "a true constitutional conservative running to cut spending, balance the budget, and restore the American Dream." He has a long track record of donating to Republican and conservative causes. But he's never run for public office - which he says makes him the most qualified person to serve.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Good morning! Here are some of today's starting headlines:

Cardinals top Phillies 5-4

Albert Pujols hit a go-ahead single in the seventh to give the St. Louis Cardinals a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies last night. John Jay added two RBIs for the Cardinals, who evened the National League division series matchup at one game apiece. St. Louis will send Jamie Garcia to the mound tomorrow in game 3.

Brunner expected to announce U.S. Senate candidacy