By John Celock
Missouri’s U.S. Senate race is too close to call as the campaign heads into the final week.
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Mason Dixon Poll released Friday shows U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R) leading Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander 47 percent to 46 percent. The race has been one of the most competitive in the country with the polls tightening in the final weeks.
The poll indicates that Kander, who has made ethics reform his top issue in state government, leading Blunt 46 percent to 44 percent in the area of honesty and trust. Blunt, a one term senator, leads Kander 45 percent to 42 percent in the category of economy and jobs. Blunt leads Kander, an Army veteran of the war in Afghanistan, 46 percent to 45 percent in the category of national security.
The entry of the 35-year-old Kander into the Senate race last year vaulted the race to one of the most competitive in the country. Kander, who was elected secretary of state in 2012 following four years in the state House of Representatives, has kept Blunt’s lead to the single digits for most of the campaign. While Kander has been viewed as a rising star in Show Me State politics, most national attention did not enter his campaign until earlier this month when he released an ad showing that he could assemble a rifle blindfolded and stressing his support for the Second Amendment and a ban for those on the no-fly list from buying guns.
Blunt has been a mainstay in Missouri politics for four decades, starting his career in elective office in 1973 when he was appointed Greene County clerk, a post he would later win three times. He was the unsuccessful GOP nominee for lieutenant governor in 1980 before winning the first of two terms as secretary of state in 1984. He then lost the GOP primary for governor in 1992. He served 14 years in Congress starting in 1997, including stints as acting majority leader, majority whip and minority whip. He was elected to the Senate in 2010 and is currently chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress and the Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
Blunt’s family is largely involved in politics with his wife and several children being lobbyists. His son, Matt, served a term as Missouri governor.
Kander and his wife, Diana, entered the political realm a decade ago, creating an organization to get more young professionals involved in politics in Kansas City. He was elected to the state House in 2008, where he quickly took on ethics reform as his top issue, citing his time as an Army intelligence officer in Afghanistan for his interest in the issue. He won the secretary of state’s job in 2012 and has been a frequent presence around the state since taking the job as Missouri’s chief elections officer.