Friday, July 18, 2008

Missouri Governor: Hulshof Faces Two Tough Races

By Nathan L. Gonzales

Missouri Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R) hasn’t had a tough race in more than a decade, but he chose to leave his safe House seat in order to run for governor. Now he’s in the middle of a competitive primary, with an uphill general election looming if he survives.

Hulshof jumped at the opportunity to run for the Show Me State’s top job when unpopular Gov. Matt Blunt (R), son of House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), surprised everyone by announcing in January that he would not seek a second term. Chaos ensued within the party, but the GOP field eventually boiled down to Hulshof and state Treasurer Sarah Steelman.

A July 7-10 Research 2000 poll for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KMOV-TV showed the Congressman leading Steelman 32 percent to 24 percent in the Aug. 5 primary. Two other candidates are in the race and received a combined 17 percent in the poll, but they are not expected to win the nomination.

A June 9-10 American Viewpoint survey for Hulshof’s campaign showed him leading in the primary 39 percent to 26 percent.

The primary has been very competitive, and even bitter at times, but Republicans will need to quickly unify behind their nominee in order to defeat state Attorney General Jay Nixon (D), who has been running for governor for more than two and half years.

The July Research 2000 poll had Nixon leading both Hulshof, 52 percent to 35 percent, and Steelman, 53 percent to 34 percent, in general election match ups. A January Research 2000 survey showed Nixon leading Blunt by 9 points, but controversies during his first term severely limited the governor’s appeal, while Hulshof and Steelman should pull closer by increasing their statewide profiles.

Republicans’ chances of holding the governorship improved when Blunt bowed out, but it’s still a tough hold.

This item first appeared on on July 15, 2008. 2008 © Roll Call Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.