The Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s leading U.S. Senate candidates joined a record number of political hopefuls Tuesday who waited in long lines to sign up on the first day possible for the 2010 elections.
Republican Rep. Roy Blunt and Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan remained pleasant face-to-face — but critical of each other out-of-earshot — as they briefly crossed paths during the first day of candidacy filing.
The front-runners were among 14 candidates who filed to run the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Kit Bond, including nine Republicans, two Democrats, two Constitution Party candidates and one Libertarian.
All told, 417 people filed candidacy papers Tuesday for Congress, the state Legislature, state auditor and various judgeships. That easily exceeded the opening-day record of 386 candidates set in 2002, when Missouri’s legislative term limits law barred the first large wave of incumbents from seeking re-election. Many of those freshmen from eight years ago now are being term-limited themselves.
Missouri’s candidacy filing period runs through March 30. But more than half the candidates typically file on the first day — some because of tradition, others in hopes of drawing a good lottery number that places them first on the list of names for their races.
The party primaries will be held Aug. 3, with the winners facing off in the Nov. 2 general election.
Missouri’s election process is overseen by the secretary of state — a job currently held by Carnahan but also held by Blunt from 1985-1993.
Carnahan individually greeted many candidates waiting in a filing line that snaked through the halls of the secretary of state’s office. When Blunt’s turn came, the two shook hands and professed to be pleased to see each other during a 20-second conversation.
“I’m glad to be back in the building and look forward to talking about the issues during the campaign,” Blunt said to Carnahan.
“Yea, I do too,” Carnahan replied. “I hope we can do that.”
Blunt arrived to file for office in a blue recreational vehicle emblazoned with big stars, his first name and the slogan: “Jobs for Missouri’s future” on the side. It was one of his final stops on a 19-city, several-day tour of the state.
On Monday, Bond was one of five Republicans to break ranks and vote with Democrats to end a GOP filibuster on jobs legislation. Bond said in a written statement that it was “critical to protecting workers and our economy” and would restore funding for state transportation projects.
Carnahan praised Bond’s bipartisan vote.
“I absolutely applaud him for finally sort of coming around and deciding we have some common issues in the country, that we ought to come together and put this nonsense political bickering aside,” Carnahan said.
But Blunt said he would have stuck with fellow Republicans in blocking the bill, with hopes of later backing an alternative that he said would have offered greater tax incentives to the private sector.
“I agree with Kit almost all the time, he’s one of my closest friends,” Blunt said. But “I thought that would have been a day when we would have been perhaps better off to hold out for the broader bill that (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid had agreed to just a few days ago.”
Blunt and Carnahan have been criticizing each other on the campaign trail. Carnahan calls Blunt a Washington insider; Blunt calls Carnahan a rubber stamp for President Barack Obama’s proposals on health care, energy and tax policy.
“The differences in Robin Carnahan and I on all of these issues is almost absolute,” Blunt told reporters. “I don’t know of any major issues we agree on.”
Carnahan said that was a perfect example of why voters should send her to Washington.
“I think Congressman Blunt has been part of the problem there. He’s been part of this nonstop partisanship, and when he makes a statement like that — that we don’t have anything we agree on — I think that’s a reflection of what’s wrong with Washington, and we need to change it,” Carnahan said.
This year’s candidacy filings marked the first for a new computer system integrated with Missouri’s voter registration database. Carnahan said the system should more efficiently share candidate lists with local election officials and more quickly post information to the Internet. But the start of candidacy filing was delayed about 15 minutes because of a glitch in getting the new computer system running.
The Associated Press
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