The Missouri Senate delegation will remain divided in 2011, as tonight Republican Rep. Roy Blunt defeated Democrat Robin Carnahan to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Kit Bond.
In a normal year, Carnahan would have stood a very good chance of defeating Blunt, whose stock is low in Missouri after years of getting cozy in Washington and after his son Matt’s disastrous single term as governor.
Since 2005, Carnahan, the daughter of Missouri politicians, has served as Missouri’s Secretary of State. Her star had been on the rise since then, particularly relative to Blunt. She was endorsed by the Kansas City Star and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And, indeed, she enjoyed a slight lead in the polls before Democrats’ popularity fell through the floor late last year.
In the waning days of the campaign, Missouri Dems believed they’d discovered a silver bullet: a series of documents suggesting, perhaps, that many years ago, when he was Secretary of State, Blunt had abused his authority to help an immigrant with whom he had a connection expedite her citizenship application. A similar scandal helped to doom California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman (R) and Dems were hoping it would have the same impact on Blunt’s campaign. But the details weren’t nearly so clear: The woman Blunt helped was not in the country illegally, but rather was seeking asylum in the United States, and had asked him to help her expedite a transfer of her asylum petition from California to Missouri.
The documents also suggested that Blunt and his first wife had employed the woman under the table, despite the fact that she was not allowed to work in the United States. Blunt’s campaign denied this.
Blunt was once a rising star in the Republican Washington. When Tom DeLay replaced Dick Armey as House Majority Leader in 2003, Blunt Replaced DeLay as Whip. In 2005, he served as interim Majority Leader after a scandal-plagued DeLay stepped aside. Two years later, when the Republicans were in the minority, Blunt postured as if he had the votes lined up to become Minority Leader, but was defeated by John Boehner in a secret ballot. Blunt remained Whip, but stepped down in 2008.
In the House, Blunt was a member of the Energy and Commerce, and Intelligence committees.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.