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Roy Blunt has clinched the US Senate seat held by outgoing Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond. Blunt soundly defeated Missouri’s Democratic Secretary of State, Robin Carnahan, by managing to tie her to Washington politics through party affiliation. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore was at the Blunt watch party in Springfield and has this report.
[Sound: media setting up, people talking, cheering]
Hundreds of Republican supporters, and scores of media from as far away as Washington, D.C., filled the conference center at the University Plaza in Springfield Tuesday night. Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin appeared larger than life on a huge projector screen that ran continuous election coverage from Fox News.
It was a night for the Republicans—across the nation, and especially here at home.
The ultimate showdown in the Show-Me State was the US Senate race between two political dynasties – the Blunt and Carnahan families, which could easily be referred to as the “Montagues” and the “Capulets” of Missouri politics.
Both families have, at one time or another, occupied the governor’s mansion, held seats in Congress, served as state officials, and now, both will have graced the US Senate.
Republican Roy Blunt defeated his Democratic opponent, Robin Carnahan, by a commanding 14 percentage points.
At the watch party, the extended Blunt family filed onto the stage as Roy’s son, Andy Blunt, introduced his father as a Senator for the first time.
“Are you ready to keep waging that fight with Roy Blunt in the Senate, to stop the Obama agenda, and to restore the America we all love? Ladies and gentlemen, the next United States Senator, Roy Blunt and Abby Blunt,” he said enthusiastically.
[Sound: Music playing, cheering]
The campaign’s song of choice was titled “Fix You,” recorded by the British band Coldplay.
At the podium, Blunt said he was honored to have been chosen by Missourians for this revered post. He recalled the conversations he had with folks on the campaign trail over the course of a 20-month-campaign—and that many of them were concerned about how much money the federal government is spending. He also talked about how Missouri’s unemployed are hurting.
"You know, we’ve been in that part of the campaign where people come up to you for the last month, maybe longer than that, and say, ‘Gee, those campaigns are tough.’ ‘Campaigns are campaigns. What’s tough is if you’re a 50 year old guy who has brought a paycheck home every month of your adult life. And your family has depended on you every month of your life, and you don’t have that job, and you don’t know where you’re going to find another one,’” Roy Blunt said.
There was a hint, however, of just how much of a toll a politician’s schedule can take on his or her family life. Blunt’s most animated family member on the stage, by far, was his young son, Charlie, who nodded wistfully when Andy Blunt mentioned the long campaign hours.
"And Charlie has missed…Charlie has missed his Daddy. He says, ‘That’s right.’ And Charlie is going to get to spend a lot of time with his daddy over the next couple of months, and I know he’s excited about it. And happy birthday to you tomorrow, Charlie,” Andy Blunt said.
Even though Carnahan never held a political office in Washington, D.C., Blunt was able to effectively portray her as, quote, “Rubberstamp Robin,” insisting that she would be a rubberstamp on President Barack Obama’s policies.
Carnahan did her best to paint Blunt, a six-term Congressman, as the ultimate “Washington insider,” highlighting Blunt’s relationships with the oil industry and lobbyists.
In the end, though, Carnahan’s affiliations with the Democratic Party may have proven more harmful than Blunt’s affiliations with inside Washington this year.
Blunt will join Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, on the Senate floor.
Libertarian party Candidate Jonathan Dine carried three percent of the vote in the US Senate race, and the Constitution party’s Jerry Beck had around two percent.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.