Roy Blunt

Jason Kander, left, and Roy Blunt
Carolina Hidalgo and Sen. Blunt's Flickr page

In a sign of how competitive Missouri’s U.S. Senate contest has become, the two major candidates – Republican incumbent Roy Blunt and Democrat Jason Kander – held dueling roundtables with area military veterans.

Wednesday’s events were intended to underscore how both men are highlighting their armed services credentials, and emphasizing their concern about the problems facing the nation’s military.

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander at state Democrats' annual Truman Dinner. Campaign aide Chris Hayden is to his right.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the humble opinions of national pundits that monitor congressional races, Jason Kander pretty much came out nowhere to get on their national radar.

The Washington Post, Roll Call and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball recently declared that Missouri’s U.S. Senate race was a “toss-up.” And these prognosticators, in general, are very surprised that Kander made the race close. For instance: When Roll Call ranked Kander as the best Senate challenger of the 2016 cycle, the publication called the development “remarkable” for a race “that most analysts considered a second-tier contest when the summer began.”

stacks of money

Excluding the independent spending by outside groups, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander is still out-raising the man he hopes to defeat, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. But in one of the nation’s most closely watched Senate contests, Blunt is the bigger spender as the duo head into their final weeks before the Nov. 8 election.

The latest campaign finance reports – made public by both contenders a few days early – show that Kander has collected just over $3 million since July.  That compares to close to $1.9 million for Blunt.

Jason Kander, left, and Roy Blunt
Carolina Hidalgo and Sen. Blunt's Flickr page

Missouri TV viewers may see a deluge of new ads focusing on the U.S. Senate contest — and those ads may not be from the candidates’ campaigns.

In the wake of Sunday’s presidential debate, political activists in both parties privately say they expect more outside money to be spent in the state shortly on behalf of U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and his Democratic rival, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander.

Why? Because of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's latest national surge in the polls. 

Ann Wagner
St. Louis Regional Chamber | File photo

With Republican Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in crisis mode one day before a pivotal debate in St. Louis, at least two area GOP officials want their party's nominee to step aside.

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, and Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, both released statements on Saturday pulling their support for Trump. Their retractions came a little less than a day after the Washington Post’s explosive story detailing Trump’s vulgar comments about women that were captured on tape in 2005.

Jason Kander, left, and Roy Blunt
Carolina Hidalgo and Sen. Blunt's Flickr page

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and his Democratic rival, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, stuck to their long-standing playbooks of pitches and attacks during their first – and possibly, only – joint appearance on the same stage.

They were among five U.S. Senate contenders on stage at Friday’s forum in Branson sponsored by the Missouri Press Association. 

Although Kander has accepted two other debate invitations, Blunt so far has not.

Blunt – Flickr/Gage Skidmore; McCaskill – Flickr/SenatorMcCaskill

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., plans to travel around Missouri and the country in coming weeks campaigning for favored candidates and causes on the Nov. 8 ballot. Among her activities: attempting to defeat her Missouri colleague, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. – even though they often work together.

“It is awkward,’’ McCaskill said in an interview. But as she sees it, she’s simply mirroring Blunt’s actions of a few years ago.

Jason Kander, left, and Roy Blunt
Carolina Hidalgo and Sen. Blunt's Flickr page

Democrat Jason Kander’s new TV ad, which shows him assembling an assault weapon blindfolded, already has been hailed by the Washington Post as the best campaign ad so far this year.

That’s just the latest evidence of the national attention – and money – that’s been pouring into Missouri for months to aid or attack Kander or the man he hopes to defeat in November, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

Jason Kander speaks at the Missouri Democratic Party's annual dinner, the Truman Dinner, at Busch Stadium.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Missouri’s already nationally watched contest for the U.S. Senate is getting swept into the St. Louis region’s latest spat of vote-related woes — including the current court fight over absentee ballots cast in the Aug. 2 primary for a legislative seat whose boundaries are within the city of St. Louis.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., has been running a TV ad that seeks to tie those controversies to how his Democratic rival, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, has performed his job. Blunt also has raised general questions about Kander’s performance during his recent campaign stops.

Kander has pushed back.

Tom, via Flickr

Missouri’s U.S. senators, who are at odds on some issues, do seem to share the same prediction when it comes to Zika, the dangerous virus spread by mosquitoes.

Republican Roy Blunt and Democrat Claire McCaskill both say Congress will finally take action within weeks to approve funding to fight the virus, which has gained a foothold in Florida.

Jason Kander skipped Philadelphia to travel the roads of Missouri. The incumbent he's challenging, Sen. Roy Blunt, will travel  next week.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

On two points, Missouri’s two major candidates for the U.S. Senate seem to agree:

  • Skip your presidential convention.
  • Hit the road in a campaign bus.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, speaks during a visit to NCADA's offices in St. Louis County. He leads a government task force to curb opioid abuse.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County could receive federal funds to establish a regional prescription drug monitoring database, under a new law passed by Congress that President Barack Obama has said he will sign.

The measure allows for local governments, not just states, to apply for federal grants to set up a database to alert physicians when a patient may be receiving too many opioid prescriptions. U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said she submitted the language in a motion because Missouri is the only state in the country without a statewide system.

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt are the front runners for the Democratic and Republican nominations in the next Senate race.
official photos

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt has outraised his Democratic rival, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, according to the latest campaign-finance reports due later this week. But the gap in their bank accounts is closing.

Copies of their official summary sheets due Friday — but made available early to St. Louis Public Radio — show that Blunt collected $2.3 million during the last three months, compared to $1.75 million for Kander.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt meets with people Feb. 20 at Washington University's Alzheimer's Research Center in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

The U.S. senators representing Missouri and Illinois are playing an active role in congressional efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Dick Durbin, D-Ill. and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., all voted for the popular Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act known as CARA.

Blunt – Flickr/Gage Skidmore; McCaskill – Flickr/SenatorMcCaskill

Prompted by a Democratic filibuster, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote next week on proposals to expand the nation’s background checks for gun purchases, and to bar some people on no-fly lists from purchasing guns.

But the proposals are expected to highlight a sharp divide over what Congress should do, if anything, in the wake of last weekend’s mass shooting in Orlando that killed at least 49 people in a gay nightclub.

The LG PAC is airing an ad attacking Missouri Republican gubernatorial hopeful John Brunner.
Screen capture | YouTube

Missouri’s four Republican candidates for governor each claim to be shocked by the emergence of a new political group, LG PAC, that has launched a $1 million TV ad campaign this week.

That spending is more than all of the state’s gubernatorial candidates have spent on TV so far -- combined.  LG PAC also is just the latest of a series of groups, with unknown donors, that are spending money to aid or attack Missouri’s statewide candidates.

Scenes from the state Republican convention from upper left: Campaign signs, a Trump mask, message T-shirt and the convention hall
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

BRANSON, Mo. - Less than a month after most Missouri Republican leaders  favored anyone but Donald Trump, those same officials told hundreds of party activists that they now had no other choice.

Failure to help Trump means victory by Hillary Clinton. And that, said a parade of GOP speakers, is unthinkable.

Zika virus, here shown as a digitally-colorized transmission electron micrograph, can be transmitted by mosquitoes or sexually.
Cynthia Goldsmith | Centers for Disease Control

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says the Senate is likely to vote by next week on money to be used to fight the Zika virus, the disease spread by mosquitoes and blamed for thousands of debilitating birth defects in South and Central America.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Blunt denied assertions by some Senate Democrats, and the White House, that he and other Senate Republicans have been dragging their feet when it comes to allocating money to battle the insects and the virus.

Blunt acknowledged that Zika, and the mosquitoes that carry it, are likely to arrive in Missouri this summer.

Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

In the midst of a re-election campaign, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says he won’t be attending this summer’s Republican presidential nominating convention in Cleveland.

Blunt has attended most presidential conventions during his congressional career, although he notes that his visits have usually been only for a day or two. His decision to skip this one entirely, he says, has nothing to do with the party’s turmoil over its likely nominee, Donald Trump – nor his heated fall contest against Democrat Jason Kander.

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt are the front runners for the Democratic and Republican nominations in the next Senate race.
official photos

With Missouri’s primary and general elections just months away, some of the state’s top candidates are focusing on their base as much as their bank account.

That’s particularly true of the state’s U.S. Senate candidates — Republican incumbent Roy Blunt and his Democratic rival, Secretary of State Jason Kander.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Senator Roy Blunt, and Congressman William Lacy Clay, as well as other state and city officials, worked together on north St. Louis' pitch as the NGA's relocation site.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said he got a small reaction from Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, when he told him that the city was offering a 100-acre site at no cost.

"Although he’s got a good poker face, I thought I saw him crack a smile," Slay said.

Christian Morgan and his son, Schaefer, 3, share ice cream at the Lincoln Days ice cream social.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Few events on Missouri’s political calendar truly compare to Lincoln Days. The statewide soirée is a chance to hear messaging from the state’s Republican faithful – and an even grander opportunity to fill out one of John Combest’s bingo cards.

For political reporters, Lincoln Days is a good time to catch up with some of the Missouri’s top Republican leaders in an informal setting. Some of the best political tidbits are exchanged within crowded hallways or in creatively decorated hospitality suites – especially the secret to marshaling the perfect ice cream scoop.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, right, listens to U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton's speech at Lincoln Days.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

GOP presidential aspirant Donald Trump has promised that there will be so much winning if he’s elected that Americans will get bored of winning. But Frieda Keough isn’t sure that sentiment will carry the day in the Show Me State.

Eric Schmitt, left, a state senator from Glendale, will be opposed by Dan Brown, a state senator from Rolla, in the Republican primary for state treasurer.
File photos | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

(UPDATED 12:40 p.m. Thurs, Feb. 25) The biggest surprise of Missouri’s statewide candidate filings so far is that the GOP apparently will have a primary for state treasurer, despite expectations that state Sen. Eric Schmitt’s huge financial edge would give him a free ride.

And the Republican rival who filed against Schmitt, R-Glendale, had publicly endorsed him just three weeks ago.

Candidates for offices throughout the state line up to file for the August primary ballot.
Mallory Daily | St. Louis Public Radio intern

Hundreds of Missouri candidates flocked to Jefferson City Tuesday to take part in the longstanding ritual of standing in line — in some cases for hours — to participate in the first day of candidate-filing for the August and November ballots.

All the major candidates for U.S. Senate and governor filed, along with contenders for other statewide offices, Congress and the General Assembly. And to many, the first-day symbolism counts as much as the substance.

Sen. Blunt, wife Abigail, son Charlie 2-19-16
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., is launching his re-election bid by sticking to familiar conservative themes — his belief in fewer federal regulations, his opposition to Obamacare and his pledge to oppose any Supreme Court nominee.

In fact, Blunt told allies gathered Friday morning in an Arnold-area factory that he wouldn’t even vote to confirm his own daughter, a lawyer, should she somehow become the choice of President Barack Obama. 

An illustration of what it feels like to experience schizophrenia.
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri could be one of the first states in the nation to test a new mental health care program designed to expand access to treatment.

The pilot program was created by the Excellence in Mental Health Care Act, co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo) and signed into law in 2014 as part of a broader Medicare reform measure. It sets quality standards for community mental health centers in participating states and more fully funds treatment for Medicaid patients.

Eric Greitens, who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor, opened a campaign office in Crestwood earlier this week. Feb. 8 2016
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

For all the months of declarations and endorsements, the campaign season really gets underway when candidates begin opening their field offices, and their first TV ads hit the airwaves. The season also often kicks off with a broadside attack.

This week, all three happened.

This radiation warning sign is one of many posted on the chain link fence surrounding part of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Mo.
Sarah Skiold-Hanlin | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents near the West Lake landfill who have long sought a change in federal oversight are closer to getting part of their wish granted, with late Tuesday’s Senate passage of a bill that would transfer authority of the radioactive site to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Senate action came as a result of a bipartisan push by U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy |

In a sign that Missouri’s U.S. Senate contest is really heating up, the two major candidates – Republican incumbent Roy Blunt and Democrat Jason Kander – released their latest campaign-finance documents almost three weeks early.

Blunt is continuing to outraise and outspend Kander, currently Missouri’s secretary of state. But the overall numbers fail to tell the whole story.