SPRINGFIELD — Republican Roy Blunt fended off an aggressive challenge from Democrat Robin Carnahan on Tuesday and rode a national GOP wave to an easy win in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race.
When 2010 began, the race was expected to be one of the nation’s most competitive, pitting two of Missouri’s best-known political families against one another.
But Blunt won in a rout. With 97 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, he led Carnahan with 55 percent of the vote to 39 percent.
“Missourians are sending a message that they want common sense,” Blunt told supporters at his victory party as members of his family stood nearby. “They want a country that understands that private-sector jobs should be the goal of our country.”
The nation, Blunt added, “has got to get focused on things that matter.”
Blunt’s win caught no one by surprise. The seven-term Springfield-area congressman led in every independent poll since January despite a steady TV-ad barrage from Carnahan portraying Blunt as “the very worst of Washington.”
Republicans credited Blunt’s work ethic — he said he appeared at 930 events since the campaign began — and an uncanny ability to ward off potential primary challengers that might have undermined his momentum heading into the general election.
“He really put it to Robin Carnahan,” said Missouri State University political scientist George Connor. “It says as much about his skill as a politician as it does about the mood of the state of Missouri.”
Just moments after the polls closed Tuesday, supporters gathered at the University Plaza convention center erupted into cheers when Fox News projected Blunt the winner.
“We’re on the cusp of historic, sweeping victories, not just here in Missouri,” said Missouri Republican Party Chairman David Cole.
In St. Louis, Carnahan conceded shortly before 10 p.m., saying she still had good news for her supporters despite the tough loss.
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