Sarah Steelman

(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. 

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Ill. parents reminded about back-to-school vaccines

Illinois health and education officials are reminding parents to update their children's immunizations before they head back to school.

New Illinois Department of Public Health rules require students entering sixth and ninth grades this year to show proof of receiving the Tdap vaccine. That's a booster shot against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Missouri payrolls decline

Missouri officials say state payrolls declined by 4,000 jobs in June while unemployment simultaneously decreased 7.1 percent. Department of Economic Development officials say much of the decline in Missouri non-farm payrolls came in the local government sector, which shed 3,100 jobs in June.

The state unemployment rate has declined or held steady each month since June 2011. The jobless rate last month is the lowest in Missouri since December 2008.

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.

(Steelman photo: file photo, Akin photo: UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated at 1 p.m. with comments from the debate.

Two Missouri Republicans vying for the U.S. Senate spent more time criticizing the Democratic incumbent than each other during a debate on Tuesday.

Congressman Todd Akin and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman kept their fire mostly trained on Sen. Claire McCaskill and President Obama during the hour-long forum, which was sponsored by KTRS Radio and the St. Louis Beacon. A third candidate, businessman John Brunner, did not attend.

(File Photo/Originally from Steelman's website)

Missouri's Republican U.S. Senate primary is only one day old, and Sarah Steelman already is criticizing Todd Akin over federal spending decisions.

Steelman on Wednesday criticized Akin for voting for a "weak-kneed budget compromise" last month among House Republicans and President Barack Obama that cut $38 billion in spending.

Steelman says Akin should have held out for the full $100 billion in cuts originally sought by House Republicans. She called Akin and congressional Republicans "toothless dragons."

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

With Missouri Congressman Todd Akin (R) tossing his hat in the ring for next year’s U.S. Senate race, one of his potential successors is keeping mum about whether she’ll join the growing field vying to replace him.

Jane Cunningham (R, Chesterfield) currently represents part of St. Louis County in the Missouri Senate, and has made no secret of her interest in running for Congress.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Updated at 2:52 p.m.:

Republican Ann Wagner, who previously announced an exploratory committee for congress, made it official today.

Wagner will run in the Second Congressional District, making her announcement following Akin's official word earlier today.

U.S. Senate hopeful Sarah Steelman has raised $200,000 for her campaign, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

According to the paper, Steelman raised the sum in about a month.

So where does that put Steelman among her fellow U.S. Senate candidates? The Post-Dispatch lists the candidates' fundraising progress as follows:

(Office of Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson)

Reporting from KRCU's Jacob McCleland was used for this report.

Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson says that she is considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2012.

Emerson has been a member of Congress since 1996. Her rural district encompasses all of Southeast Missouri and includes the towns of Cape Girardeau, West Plains, Farmington, and Rolla.

Emerson says that she is not going to rush into a decision.

UPDATE 3:25 p.m. Jan. 27, 2011:

As expected, Talent has announced that he will not run for Senate in 2012. He shared the news with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today.

UPDATE 10:53 a.m. Jan. 26, 2011:

As reported by Jake Wagman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and POLITICO's David Catanese, Republican Sarah Steelman has officially announced her bid to challenge incumbent Claire McCaskill in 2012.