Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Post-Dispatch endorsed Democrat Rick Johnson in the race for the 22nd District Senate Seat.

This race has generated a lot of interest. Both the state and national parties are watching to see how this race plays out. The 22nd District isn't an essential seat, in that it won't change the Republican control of the state government. However, the 22nd is a Democratic stronghold and the Republicans are going to see if their success in other parts of the state will help them break loose a just enough voters in the 22nd.

Johnson is the presumed winner in this race, but the interesting aspect is what effect Republican Bill Alter's campaign will have. Unless the Republicans make a good showing in this race, it may represent a breakwater for the Republicans in Missouri. They may have scooped up all the territory they can reach.

If the Republicans do come out strong, it may lead to more high-finance campaigns targeting any and every Democrat in the state. It is unusual to see State Senate candidates use television, like Alter has done, but the Republicans obviously feel that it can make the difference.

Yet their focus on high-profile, high-expense advertising may be undercut by Johnson's focus on door knocking and hand-shaking. Johnson has a large number of volunteers out canvassing the county and he has focused on personal contact.

Reports from the field have indicated that, due to the fact that both candidates use their naval service in their bio, some voters think Johnson has his own t.v. ads out there, even though he doesn't. This doesn't bode well for Alter, but the confusion may worry both candidates in that the voters aren't all that aware that there is an election coming up.

Johnson may be hurt less by this confusion thanks to his focus on traditional door-to-door politic, but no politician likes to hear that the voters don't realize an election is around the corner.

This race has been described by some as a referendum on Gov. Blunt's policies, and it may well be. Alter has aligned himself in terms of policy with Blunt. Yet it may also play a larger part. as a thermometer for Republican v. Democrat policies in out-state areas. We will have to watch the final days and look at the returns before the tea leaves really begin to speak.

- Murphy

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