Kasten wins GOP nod in House race

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cape Girardeau Republicans nominated 18-year legislative veteran Mary Kasten Thursday as their candidate in the Feb. 5 special election for the Missouri House seat in the 158th District.

Kasten, 79, gave up her legislative seat in 2000 when her late husband, Dr. Melvin Kasten, became ill. The special election was forced by the resignation of Nathan Cooper, a close friend of Kasten, on Aug. 14 as a result of his guilty plea to two federal felonies.

The 158th District Republican Legislative Committee met at Dexter Bar-B-Que to select the nominee, with 17 of the 18 members present.

Kasten stepped forward as a candidate this week, following the withdrawal of two of the four candidates pursuing the nomination. A third, mortgage broker Gary Lange, withdrew when Kasten announced her intention to run.

A fourth rival, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Clinton Tracy, who is on his way home from a deployment in Iraq, was represented at the meeting by his wife, Carrie Tracy, and his mother, Cape Girardeau Councilwoman Debra Tracy.

The committee's split on the nomination vote between Kasten and Tracy was not announced.

Despite her age, Kasten said she is ready for the campaign. "I can do whatever it takes," she said. "And I've got a lot of offers to help."

Kasten will face Democratic nominee Mike Keefe and Libertarian George Webster in the election. Independent candidates wishing to enter the race have until Nov. 15 to submit petitions with 239 signatures from registered voters of the district in order to be on the ballot.

For updates, check back at www.semissourian.com or read Friday's Southeast Missourian.

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