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Matt Barney

Republicans hold “Get Out the Vote” rally at Southern days ahead of crucial election

Matt Barney

With the all-important presidential election only four days away, the coverage of the candidates has been exhaustive. However, other national, state, and local elections are also being held Tuesday that may directly affect Missouri Southern students and residents of Southwest Missouri even more. 

On the national level, incumbent Republican Senator Roy Blunt, the former seven-term congressman representing Missouri’s seventh district (home of Missouri Southern), is running against Democrat Jason Kander, an United States Army National Guard captain, lawyer and current Missouri Secretary of State. The latest polling by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shows the race is a toss-up at this point, with both candidates polling neck and neck.

The race to represent Missouri’s seventh congressional district isn’t exactly a headline-grabbing blockbuster. However, the contest involves sharp contrasts in policy and personality, pitting a three-term conservative incumbent, Billy Long, against a progressive millennial with scant political experience, Genevieve Williams.

Long, a Republican, has served in his current position since 2011 after being elected to fill the district’s vacant seat in the 2010 midterm elections following the successful election of its then-incumbent Blunt to the U.S. Senate.

Long was born in Springfield and attended the University of Missouri before dropping out to attend the Missouri Auction School in Kansas City. Long never earned a bachelor’s degree. Williams, a 28-year-old small business owner from Neosho, attended Missouri State, but like Long, also never graduated. Williams ran unsuccessfully in 2014, losing in the primary election.

Despite the conservative tilt of the district, Williams has adopted an unabashedly liberal platform, including legalizing marijuana, raising the minimum wage, and expanding background checks on gun purchases.

Long is expected to win easily because the district heavily favors the GOP, and he has a huge fundraising edge over his opponent. Long has raised $1.4 million dollars for his campaign compared to only $12,000 for Williams.

“We’re shooting to win, and stranger things have happened,” said Williams. “But I’m also not delusional.”

When it comes to statewide elections, Republican Eric Greitens is running against Democrat Chris Koster.

Greitens, a former navy SEAL, attended Duke University. After graduating, he was selected as a Rhodes Scholar, attending Lady Margaret Hall, a constituent college of the University of Oxford, in England. Greitens is the former president and founder of The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization for veterans. In 2013, Time Magazine listed him on its list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, and in 2014 Fortune Magazine listed him as one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders.

The 42-year-old Greitens is a recipient of the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Joint Service Commendation Ribbon and Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, and many other distinguished honors, including the President’s Volunteer Service Award, which was personally presented to him by President George W. Bush.

His opponent Chris Koster is the current Missouri Attorney General and previously served as a state senator from 2005-2009. Koster is an attorney by trade, graduating with his J.D from the University of Missouri in 1991. He earned a master of business administration from Washington University in St. Louis in 2002.

Along with being St. Louis natives, both candidates have the distinction of previously belonging to the others political party. The latest polling data shows Koster beating Greitens by a slim margin, 46.5 percent to 44.

Other statewide races include Democrat Russ Carnahan taking on Republican Mike Parson for lieutenant governor, Democrat Judy Baker facing Republican Eric Schmitt for state treasurer, Democrat Robin Smith facing Republican John (Jay) Ashcroft for Missouri secretary of state, and Democrat Teresa Hensley taking on Republican Josh Hawley for attorney general.

In the lieutenant governor race, Parson leads former U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan 44-41 with nine percent of voters undecided. For attorney general, Hawley leads Hensley 47-41 with 12 percent of the electorate undecided. And Ashcroft leads Smith 46-41 with 8 percent of voters undecided in the race for secretary of state.

Schmitt holds the biggest statewide lead. Recent polls show him beating former Rep. Judy Baker 45-36 with 11 percent of voters undecided.

Local elections for Jasper County assessor, treasurer, sheriff, coroner, and public administrator all have the Republican candidates running unopposed.

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