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Missouri Senate Race Garners Nationwide Attention

Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., and his Democratic challenger, state auditor Claire McCaskill, are in an apparent dead heat leading up to the Nov. 7 midterm elections. Republican and Democratic bloggers discuss the candidates' chances as the race enters its final week.

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  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    With a week to go, freshman Republican Senator Jim Talent and his Democratic challenger, Claire McCaskill, find themselves roughly in the same spot they've been in all year: a dead heat.

    According to two major polls released in recent days, the candidates are statistically tied. Despite a combined $10 million spent on the Missouri airwaves…

  • AD ANNOUNCER:

    Does that sound like Jim Talent is standing up for Missouri values?

  • AD ANNOUNCER:

    Claire McCaskill's nursing home story really gets troubling.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    … and even with big-name endorsements for each candidate, neither has been able to gain a substantial advantage.

    Both are well-known and have strong statewide political operations. Talent spent eight years in the Missouri Statehouse and another eight in the U.S. House, representing the St. Louis area. McCaskill, currently the state auditor, has spent 20 years in Missouri politics and narrowly lost the race for governor two years ago.

    When we talked with the candidates in August, Talent was aware of the anti-incumbent feeling this year and admitted that something in Washington wasn't working.

    SEN. JIM TALENT (R), Missouri: Well, my view is that people are concerned that the system in Washington is not responding to them, that neither party's establishment is, and they want somebody who will stand up for them and their values and make the system work for them.

    And I encourage them in that view. I think they should want that, and I have tried to offer that on a bunch of issues: methamphetamine, renewable fuels, prescription drugs for seniors. I said I was going to work on those things, and I did.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    McCaskill's point was that Talent voted with President Bush 91 percent of the time and said Missourians are not being heard in Washington.

    CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), Candidate for Missouri Senate: It's about people who really feel like they're being left out of the decision-making process, people who really don't feel like they've got a voice anymore.

    As they watch these CEO salaries climb, as they look at no-bid contracts, as they see the consolidation of industries to the point that we have no competition in our economy, Missourians are getting a sense of unease that this thing has gotten way too weighted to one side. And I think this is really about me bringing a message of balance and independence.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Both candidates hope their positions on two closely watched ballot initiatives — one to increase the minimum wage and another to encourage stem cell research — will energize turnout at the polls. Two Missouri political consultants, Roy Temple, a Democrat, and Jeff Roe, a Republican, have been gauging voter enthusiasm on their respective blogs.

    ROY TEMPLE, Blogger, "Fired Up Missouri": I think the general public is aware that Republicans control the Congress, Republicans control the White House. They are not satisfied with the way things are going, and they want change. And so change, I think in the minds of most voters, is going to be turning to an alternative to the Republicans.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Jeff Roe predicted Senator Talent will prevail, despite the poor political climate for Republicans.

    JEFF ROE, Blogger, "Take Two": If he was running 2002 or 2004, or even 2008, I think it would be an easier time to be on the ballot. But 2006 is tricky because of that confluence of events, the war, the president's approval ratings, and just where our country really is right now economically and in the worldwide affairs.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Both Talent and McCaskill will need help next Tuesday from independent voters, who make up a substantial 36 percent of Missouri's electorate.