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Second Democrat declares bid for Missouri secretary of state

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 11, 2011 - A former aide to U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Lexington, is joining the race to replace Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. Rolla native Ryan Dillon has filed paperwork with the Missouri Ethics Commission to raise money for the 2012 contest for secretary of state.

The 27-year-old Democrat also released a YouTube video laying out the key points of his candidacy.

Dillon, a graduate of Westminster College, worked for Skelton's Washington office for about four and a half years. Skelton, in office since 1977, lost his post in the 2010 election to Republican Vicky Hartzler.

In an interview, Dillon -- who noted that his family is "great" friends with the Carnahans -- praised Robin Carnahan's tenure as secretary of state. The Carnahan family, which includes the late Gov. Mel Carnahan, former U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan, D-Missouri, and U.S.Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, also hails from Rolla.

"Now that she's not running, I was encouraged to take a look at the race and ultimately chose to enter the race after today," Dillon said. Dillon is the second Democrat to jump into the contest to replace Carnahan.

State Rep. Jason Kander, D-Kansas City, announced his candidacy the same afternoon after Carnahan made the surprise announcement this fall that she was not seeking a third term. Since then, Kander, 30, has collected endorsements from state Treasurer Clint Zweifel, former Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell and a number of sitting and former state legislators. According to his latest campaign-finance report, Kander has $232,888.45 cash on hand.

Three Republicans -- Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, Sen. Scott Rupp, R-Wentzville, and House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, R-Willard -- also are vying for the post. Each party will choose its nominee next August.

When asked what distinguished him from Kander, Dillon said that he will "bring a fresh face and fresh ideals to this race and the office of secretary of state."

Dillon said that voters are "frustrated" with politics in the state capital. "I think that it's time we have a candidate who'll stand up and remind people that government can work if we can come together and find common ground," he said.

The secretary of state's office has multiple duties. Besides handling business registrations and monitoring the sales of securities, the office also oversees Missouri's elections and keeps track of voter registrations.

Dillon said he's aware of the challenges and concerns facing small businesses, noting that his parents owned one while he was growing up.

"We need to do everything that we can to ensure that small businesses are successful because they are the heart and soul of our communities," said Dillon, who added he wants to encourage veterans to open businesses.

Dillon said he opposes a photo identification requirement for voters at the polls. Most Democrats have come out against that requirement, contending that it will disenfranchise many elderly, disabled or poor voters who are less likely to have the government-issued photo IDs that many Republicans would require. Republicans say they are simply out to prevent voter fraud.

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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