By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Area residents who run into state Rep. Bill Lant might congratulate him for coming in second in the race for majority whip of the Missouri House Republican caucus.
Lant said he made it to the sixth round in a seven-way race on Wednesday, and he wasn’t disappointed when the job went to Rep. Sandy Crawford, of Dallas County.
“She’s from Southwest Missouri too, and we agreed we’d support each other,” said Lant, who represents Newton and McDonald counties.
Lant, who is from Seneca, said the job of whip “might be like trying to keep bullfrogs in a wheelbarrow,” despite a veto-proof GOP majority in the House.
The whip’s job is to line up Republican votes for legislation supported by the caucus. The House will have 110 Republicans in January, but that number includes some party members who have tea party interests, some who are Libertarians and those with more traditional Republican viewpoints.
GREENE COUNTY SPLIT
Greene County, often as reliably Republican as the rest of Missouri’s 7th Congressional District, went its own way in Tuesday’s general election.
Voters in the district’s most populous county supported the Romney-Ryan ticket, with 61.1 percent of the vote, but they shifted from other counties in the 7th District by endorsing U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat. She got 48 percent of the vote compared with 44 percent for GOP challenger Todd Akin. The county also gave a narrow victory to Gov. Jay Nixon, also a Democrat, with 49.4 percent of the vote. His Republican opponent, Dave Spence, got 47.6 percent of the vote.
Statewide, Mitt Romney got 54 percent of the vote to 44 percent for President Barack Obama. McCaskill received 55 percent to 39 percent for Akin. Nixon got 55 percent, while Spence got 43 percent.
In Jasper County, McCaskill got 39 percent of the vote while Akin got 55 percent, but McCaskill fared better than the Obama-Biden ticket, which got just 28 percent of the vote, compared with 69 percent for Romney-Ryan. Nixon got 43 percent of the vote from Jasper County voters, compared with 54 percent for Spence.
Every other county in the 7th District endorsed the Republican presidential ticket by at least 70 percent — with margins of more than 72 percent in Lawrence, Christian, McDonald, Newton, Stone and Taney counties.
In the governor’s race, Spence got his widest margin from McDonald County, at 62.3 percent.
The 7th District hasn’t sent a Democrat to Congress since the Kennedy administration — Charlie Brown, 1957-1961 — and voters on Tuesday followed suit by returning Springfield’s Billy Long to Washington. Long got his strongest endorsement in Newton County, with 71 percent of the vote. His margin of victory was at least 64 percent in all of the counties in the district except for Greene County, where he got 57 percent.
HIGHS AND LOWS
Thankfully, voter turnout in Jasper County wasn’t as dismal as it might have been, based on the numbers that show up for city and school elections in the spring. But among Missouri’s 114 counties, only eight had lower voter turnouts than Jasper County’s 57.8 percent on Election Day. The lowest was Sullivan County, at 52.6 percent.
Statewide, voter turnout was 65.7 percent.
In Newton County, 62.6 percent of registered voters showed up at the polls. Other figures included McDonald County, 63.1 percent; Barton County, 66 percent; Dade County, 66.2 percent; Lawrence County, 65.5 percent; and Vernon County, 63 percent.
The highest voter turnout in the state was in Camden County, with 71.5 percent
Susan Redden is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at email@example.com or 417-623-3480, ext. 7258. Follow her on Twitter@Susan_Redden.