The Missouri Republican Party has its sights set on taking control of the state House in 2002, and state Rep. Catherine Hanaway is crisscrossing the state to try to make it happen.
Hanaway, House minority leader from the St. Louis area, met with key Republican supporters in Cape Girardeau on Tuesday. It's one of many trips she has been making around the state to line up GOP candidates for next year's election.
Hanaway said the GOP currently has 75 seats in the 163-seat House. Republicans are seven seats away from wrestling control of the chamber away from the Democrats, having picked up 30 seats since 1980.
"I think the numbers are there and I think we also have the team in place," said Hanaway, who is in line to become speaker of the House if the GOP takes control.
Term limits will have a huge impact on the election, Hanaway said. "We know we will have a minimum of 80 open seats," she said. The list includes 39 Republican lawmakers. In addition, two other GOP lawmakers already have announced plans to run for the state Senate.
The Republican and Democratic parties are expected to slug it out for many of the open seats. "I think it will be a very intense race," said Hanaway.
A poor national economy could cut down on the amount of money that candidates will be able to raise for their campaigns, she said.
The political campaign could be overshadowed by the United States' war with terrorists.
"If lives are at risk, I think there will be very little patience for intense partisanship," she said.