By DAVE SKRETTA
(KANSAS CITY, Mo., AP) — Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill retained her seat in the Senate while Mitt Romney captured the state’s 10 electoral votes in his failed bid for the White House.
Romney’s victory marked the second straight election that Obama failed to carry the state, though neither presidential candidate did much campaigning in Missouri. Obama long ago conceded the bellwether state, allowing Romney to focus on other battleground states.
The race between McCaskill and Republican challenger Todd Akin garnered plenty of national attention in part because of its pivotal role in deciding which party controls the chamber and because of Akin’s much-publicized remarks about pregnancy and abortion.
Voters ultimately sided with McCaskill, considered among the most vulnerable of the Democratic incumbent senators because of her ties to Obama, in a state increasingly favoring Republicans.
“With a stubborn determination, tenacity and refusal to give up, we showed the country what Missouri is made of,” McCaskill said during her victory speech.
Six of the seven incumbents in Missouri’s U.S. House delegation won re-election: Veteran officeholders Emanuel Cleaver, Sam Graves, Billy Long, Blaine Luetkemeyer and Jo Ann Emerson each defeated challengers with less name recognition and far fewer campaign resources, and first-term GOP Rep. Vicky Hartzler held off challenger Teresa Hensley in a closely watched contest.Ann Wagner, a former state Republican leader and U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, will succeed Akin in Congress. Wagner is a former Missouri Republican Party chairwoman.
Missouri was electing just eight members of Congress instead of nine because of redistricting after the 2010 census. For the first time in three decades, the state lost a seat in the U.S. House when its population failed to keep pace with other faster-growing states.
Election officials forecasted 72 percent of the population — more than 3 million of nearly the 4.2 million registered voters — would cast ballots, and long lines were reported at polling places across the state. Only minor glitches had been reported to the Secretary of State’s office.
There were several contentious policy issues on the ballot, including a measure that would increase Missouri’s lowest-in-the nation tobacco tax by 73 cents per pack.
The tobacco tax measure was still too close to call Tuesday night, but voters passed a ballot measure limiting the governor’s ability to implement part of Obama’s health care law and a proposition allowing St. Louis to oversee its own police.
But it was the U.S. Senate race that drew the most attention. Akin, a staunch opponent of abortion, said during a TV interview in August that pregnancy is rare “if it’s legitimate rape” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Akin apologized for his comments and admitted he was wrong, but top Republicans — Romney among them — called for him to drop out of the race. The six-term congressman refused, and even mounted a comeback late in his campaign, despite McCaskill reminding voters of his inflammatory comments.
They clearly weighed on voters, both Democrat and Republican.
“It was very easy to vote against Akin with the things that he said,” said Amanda Blinebry, a 27-year-old research specialist from St. Louis. “It wasn’t hard to make that choice.”
Akin tried to gloss over his “six-second mistake” and highlight McCaskill’s close ties to Obama, including her support for his 2010 health care law and the 2009 stimulus act.
Republican voter Erica White, a 39-year-old nurse from Jefferson City, said she was giving Akin “the benefit of the doubt that perhaps he misspoke, and I believe in his ultimate beliefs — the right to life and the just the general attitude of the Republican Party.”
In other statewide races Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster defeated Republican attorney Ed Martin. Other races were still to be decided: Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder was seeking a third term against Democrat Susan Montee, a former state auditor; and Democratic Treasurer Clint Zweifel was opposed by Republican state Rep. Cole McNary.Two state House members wanted to succeed Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, who is not running for re-election. Those contestants are Republican Rep. Shane Schoeller, of Willard, and Democratic Rep. Jason Kander, of Kansas City.