Hundreds turn out for filing

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri's top U.S. Senate hopefuls drew challenges Tuesday from lesser-known candidates with catchy names as hundreds of aspiring politicians signed up on the first day possible to seek elected office.

The opening of candidate filing for the Aug. 8 primary elections marks the traditional start of Missouri's political season, although some candidates have already been campaigning for months. The filing period runs through March 28.

On day one, 359 people -- 177 Republicans, 176 Democrats and six Libertarians -- filed for federal and state legislative seats, the state auditor's race and circuit judgeships.

That's a little behind the pace of 2002, when a record number of 619 candidates ultimately filed for office. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan said she expects about 600 candidates again this year.

The top race is for U.S. Senate. But neither Republican incumbent Jim Talent nor his top Democratic challenger, State Auditor Claire McCaskill, filed their candidacy papers Tuesday.

Two others did, however. Entering the Senate race were Republican Isaiah Hair Jr., of St. Louis, and Democrat Bill Clinton Young, of Kansas City. Also filing for Senate on Tuesday was Libertarian Frank Gilmour, of Manchester.

Among Tuesday's filers were several incumbent members of Congress -- Republicans Sam Graves, of northwest Missouri, Todd Akin, of suburban St. Louis, and Jo Ann Emerson, of Southeast Missouri; and Democrats Emanuel Cleaver, of Kansas City, Ike Skelton, of western Missouri, and Russ Carnahan, of St. Louis, the brother of the secretary of state.

The first day of filing was filled with optimism.

For example, Republican Alan Conner, of rural Dallas County, was one of three Republicans to file against Skelton, a proven vote-getter now seeking his 16th consecutive two-year term in Congress. He pledged to match Skelton dollar for dollar in the campaign, spending as much of his own money as it takes.

"I'm going to put a full-court press on him," Conner said.

Skelton didn't seem too worried about Conner's pledge.

"I just run to win. I don't concern myself with other people's fund-raising," Skelton said.

First and second in line Tuesday morning were Republican Leslie Farr, a repeat challenger to Democratic U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay of St. Louis, and Republican state Rep. Jim Viebrock, who was expecting primary challengers for his southwest Missouri seat.

"When I sat down on that cold concrete, I looked down at my watch and said, 'Wow, it's 5:43 in the morning, I can't believe I'm doing this," Farr said.

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