John Brunner

(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