Roy Blunt | St. Louis Public Radio

Roy Blunt

George Caleb Bingham's 'Verdict of the People'
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A legendary 19th century Missouri artist will be the center of attention after Donald Trump is sworn in as president.

George Caleb Bingham’s "Verdict of the People" will be showcased at a luncheon following Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20. The event, which takes place in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol, is a celebration for the president, vice president, congressional leaders and other invited guests.

Republican president-elect Donald Trump’s victory margin in Missouri appears to have set a state record for a presidential contender, beating out the old one set by Democrat Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

On Nov. 8, Trump captured 523,443 more votes than the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. In 1964, Johnson defeated Republican Barry Goldwater by 510,809 votes.

Trump's number of Missouri votes – 1.594 million – also appears to set a state record for a presidential candidate.

Eric and Sheena Greitens hold their sons, Joshua and Jacob, while speaking to reporters after casting their ballots the St. Louis Public Library in the Central West End. 2016
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Republicans Tuesday night experienced their greatest triumph in the Show Me State’s modern history. And Missouri Democrats had arguably their worst night ever.

Those two declarative statements may seem like hyperbole, but it’s pretty close to the truth. Tuesday marked the first time ever Republicans won seven statewide elections in a single night. And with commanding majorities in the Missouri General Assembly, Gov.-elect Eric Greitens will be in a profoundly powerful position to enact his agenda – and to sign longstanding GOP priorities into law.

Eric Greitens addresses the crowd at his victory party on Nov. 9, 2016.
File photo| Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Republicans won big Tuesday, sweeping all statewide offices and putting the party almost totally in charge of the Missouri Capitol beginning in January.

And in part, they have Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to thank. His Missouri coattails of 20 percentage points arguably provided a strong wind at the GOP’s back.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Koster, with Senate candidate Jason Kander in the background, and Republican Eric Greitens end their day-before election blitz in St. Louis.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI and Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated with late rallies) - Nothing illustrates the tightness of Missouri’s top contests – and the pivotal role of St. Louis area voters – like dueling rallies held within hours of each other.

So does the last-minute appeals by President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Late Monday, Trump tweeted his support for GOP gubernatorial nominee Eric Greitens. Meanwhile, Obama is appearing in a radio ad and in robocalls for the Democrat running for governor, Chris Koster.

A collage of Missouri statewide and area congressional candidates on 2016 ballot
File photos | St. Louis Public Radio

As this election season finally winds down, St. Louis Public Radio is putting together a lot of the campaign coverage we did this year in the hope that readers can find the information they need before casting their votes. 

Vice President Joe Biden speaks to a crowd of supporters at a rally for Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander at The Pageant.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Vice President Joe Biden swung through St. Louis Friday to extol a largely youthful crowd to send Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander to the U.S. Senate.

Biden spoke to hundreds of people at The Pageant, a popular music venue in St. Louis. His visit comes amid a tightening race between Kander and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt in a contest that could determine whether Democrats take over the U.S. Senate next year.

Kander's aides estimated that nearly 2,000 people came to hear Kander and Biden speak.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt enjoys referencing the movie Spaceballs in his campaign speeches.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

In the early years of his political career,  U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt had a reputation as a reformer. 

In 1992, Blunt — then Missouri secretary of state — ran a stunning ad that accused fellow Republican Bill Webster of engaging in “pay to play” in the Missouri attorney general’s office.

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jason Kander speaks at a labor rally in St. Charles earlier this fall. Kander is squaring off against U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt this November.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s a dreary, rainy day in Troy, Missouri, and Jason Kander is about to meet a small group of veterans at the Roasted Bean Coffee Shop. In a weird, parallel universe, the 35-year-old Democrat would be stumping for his second term as secretary of state. But Kander’s aiming higher and is focusing his time and energy on trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.

Few national pundits believed Kander’s gambit would be worthwhile. They looked at presidential results and polls, and concluded (wrongly) Missouri was just too Republican for a Democrat to prevail. But Kander never bought into that type of assumptive prognostication. And now, Kander is within striking distance of being a building block for his party’s return to power in the U.S. Senate.

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
sxc.hu

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.

Gage Skidmore | Flickr

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.

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