Wednesday, April 06, 2005

It would appear that the race in the 22nd is not over yet. Democrat Representative Rick Johnson, and Republican Bill Alter are separated by 66 votes. Alter has 6,861 votes (30.1%) and Johnson has 6,795 (29.8%).

The mood at Johnson's headquarters was subdued last night as the final precincts reported in and the separation between the two campaigns vote totals increased. Nevertheless, Johnson was optimistic as he addressed his staff and volunteers telling them that regardless of the outcome, he would continue, "working for the people of Jefferson County … on one side of [the capitol] building or the other."

At the moment the candidates are waiting to hear the results of hand recount of a sample of votes. The Democrats may also be pondering asking for a full recount which would happen later in the week.

A third candidate, Independent Harold Selby, may find himself the target of some Democratic ire. Even Selby admitted that he may end up being viewed as a stalking-horse. Selby decided to throw his hat in the ring to challenge Johnson. Selby has previously represented Jefferson County as a Democrat, but this time decided to run as an independent because he didn't believe Johnson accurately reflected the social fiber of Jefferson County.

That said, Selby himself told KWMU's Tom Weber that he was running on only one issue, the elimination of Missouri's emissions testing system. In a county where roads have played such a big role in political campaigns, it's no surprise Selby gained some great traction.

The Johnson campaign, however, must have been surprised by Selby's effectiveness. Selby was able to gather 6,272 (27.5%) of the total vote. Despite Sen. John Edwards and some of Missouri's top Democrats coming out to stump for Johnson, Selby's campaign was able to draw enough Democratic votes to cause a split, allowing the Republican challenger to squeeze through.

The race isn't officially over yet, however, so there may yet be a new twist in this already strange race.

- Murphy

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