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With no gubernatorial or senatorial races this year, all the action will be in the congressional districts. Republicans currently occupy 6 of Missouri’s eight seats and there are no resignations.
The First District, which comprises the northern part of St. Louis and St. Louis County itself, is represented by Democrat Lacy Clay who has held the seat since 2001. In fact, since 1949 no Republican has held this seat which is why it is rated +28 Democratic by Cook. On the GOP side, three candidates have emerged: frequent candidate Martin Baker, veteran Dan Elder, and David Koehr. Make no mistake, Lacy Clay will win in November. Baker is probably the best known entity here and will likely win the primary and he gets my nod. If he can just make the race interesting, that would be victory enough.
In the 3rd District, incumbent Blaine Leutkemeyer faces three challengers in the primary. From 1949 to 2012, this was a Democratic district which gave us Russ Carnahan and Dick Gephardt. Redistricting has changed the landscape so much that it is now considered a safe Republican district, rated +13 GOP by Cook. Not much is known about any of the challengers and there is no need to delve too deeply here as the endorsement goes to Blaine Leutkemeyer.
The 4th comprises west central Missouri to the western border and is represented by Republican Vicky Hartzler who surprised in 2010 defeating longtime Democratic Congressman, Ike Skelton. Like the 3rd, it is rated +13 GOP, a beneficiary of redistricting. Hartzler will take on ex-police officer and businessman John Webb in the primary. There is not amything to particularly dislike about Webb, but the same can be said of Hartzler. For my money, Hartzler’s votes regarding energy and global warming are what puts her ahead and the nod goes to Vicky Hartzler.
Five Republicans are vying for the opportunity to take on Democratic incumbent Emanuel Cleaver in the 5th District. This district is based in Kansas City and Cleaver has represented it since 2005. In fact, it has been in Democratic hands since 1949. Still, with the right candidate this district could be flipped. It is rated by Cook as +9 Democratic which is fairly strong, but doable. Probably the best known is Mark Memoly, but only for his failed US Senate runs in 2010 and 2012. Jacob Turk is also known for previously failed runs for political office while very little is known Burton Knox and Samuel Alao. That leaves Bill Lindsey and Michael Burris. Nothing against Lindsey, but he sounds like a collection of conservative talking points with very little specifics behind it. By default, therefore, the nod would have to go to Michael Burris who may be just moderate enough to seriously challenge Cleaver, or at least make the race more interesting than it should be.
Stretching from Kansas City to the northern border of Missouri, the 6th District is mainly rural and represented by Republican Tom Graves. Kyle Reid, Christopher Ryan and Brian Tharp are challenging him in the Republican primary. “Why” is the big question. In reality, none of them stand a chance of defeating Graves and Graves is a reliable conservative in the House. He has more in common with Kansas or Nebraska Republicans. If an upset comes, it would come from Reid. However, this writer is going with a known, proven entity and would support Tom Graves.
A final passing note: in the 7th, perhaps the most Republican district in the state, Marshall Works is challenging Billy Long in the GOP primary. Again, the question is “Why?”