Hundreds in Missouri fill out candidate paperwork

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri's top gubernatorial hopefuls became official candidates Tuesday and an open congressional seat attracted a crowd as filing began for the 2008 elections.

A total of 317 Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians filled out their state paperwork and drew lottery numbers to determine their place on the Aug. 5 primary ballots.

The winners will move on to the Nov. 4 general elections.

The governor's race shaped up about as expected: Attorney General Jay Nixon, U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof and Treasurer Sarah Steelman all officially entered the race as they had previously declared they would do.

A number of people are competing to succeed Hulshof in the 9th Congressional District. Four Democrats and four Republicans filed for the seat Tuesday, and more are expected to do so before the filing period ends March 25.

The governor's race took an unexpected twist when Republican Gov. Matt Blunt announced Jan. 22 that he will not seek re-election this year.

Hulshof made an event out of his candidacy filing Tuesday, first hosting a Capitol rally during which friends and family gave testimonials.

Hulshof spoke of the need for economic development, growth in education funding, affordable and good-quality health care and "open, honest and accountable government."

"This is our task. This is our time," Hulshof told several dozen cheering supporters.

Steelman and Nixon eschewed formal campaign-style events and showed up with their families to file for office. Steelman arrived near the end of the day after campaigning in Kansas City and had her mother draw her lottery number for ballot placement.

Nixon said his first task as governor in January 2009 would be to restore the Medicaid health care cuts enacted by Blunt and the Republican-led legislature in 2005. He also highlighted the need to support public education and make college more affordable.

"We need change in Missouri," Nixon said.

Steelman highlighted the economy, quality education and the need for a good highway system. While backing Blunt's decision to make budget cuts, Steelman distanced herself from the Medicaid cuts that removed more than 100,000 people from the rolls and reduced services to hundreds of thousands of others.

"I just would have gone about it in a different way and made sure that we weren't hurting anybody in the process," she said.

"Maybe had a phase-in approach, so you still had the ability to balance the budget, but make sure that people who truly needed help were getting the help."

Nixon was the only Democrat to file for governor Tuesday.

Steelman and Hulshof got competition from two lesser known candidates -- Richard Kline, of Gipsey, and Scott Long, of Mountain View.

Kline, 68, was the first person in line to file Tuesday. He had lost previous races in southeast Missouri's 8th Congressional District. So why is he running for governor?

"It's there," he replied simply. "Where else can you pay $200 and get to file for office and say whatever you feel like saying and not get in trouble for it."

Being first to file no longer contains the significance it once did. Until the 1990s, people camped out at the Capitol for days to be first in line, because the first person got the first place on the ballot -- believed to be more attractive to voters.

The first-in-line practice still continues in some counties. But the state now uses a lottery system for the first day. Candidates draw numbers from 1 to 998, with the lowest numbers getting the highest spots on the ballot in each race. On subsequent days, candidates are placed on the ballot in the order they file.

Former professional football player Brock Olivo, who is running for Congress in the 9th District, said he showed up at the secretary of state's office at 5:30 a.m. Yet Olivo drew one of the highest numbers possible and got listed last among the four Republicans who filed Tuesday.

Also filing for Hulshof's open congressional seat Tuesday were Republican state Rep. Bob Onder, of Lake St. Louis; Dan Bishir, of St. Peters; and state Rep. Danielle "Danie" Moore, of Fulton.

The Democrats who filed for his seat Tuesday were former Rep. Jeff Schaeperkoetter, of Owensville; former House Speaker Steve Gaw, of Holts Summit; state Rep. Judy Baker, of Columbia; and Marion County Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode, of Palmyra.

The 2nd Congressional District, held by Republican Rep. Todd Akin, drew five Democratic challengers Tuesday.

Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and Democratic front-runner Rep. Sam Page each drew primary opponents in the lieutenant governor's race.

The open attorney general's and treasurer's offices each attracted three Democrats and one Republican on Tuesday, all of whom had previously said they would run.

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