KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt was re-elected Tuesday night to the seat he has held for 26 years, leaving him poised for promotion to speaker should Democrats take control of the House of Representatives.
With about one-quarter of precincts reporting, Gephardt was declared the winner over Republican Catherine Enz. Most of the uncounted votes were in heavily Democratic areas of the district.
Gephardt was with U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan in St. Louis. His spokeswoman, Adella Jones, said he would not comment until all races were called.
In past elections, Gephardt was considered the most vulnerable of the state's nine congressman. But redistricting allowed Gephardt to capitalize on population shifts by increasing the portion of the Democrat-heavy city included in the 3rd District.
Enz was forced to give up her seat in the Missouri Legislature due to the state's term limits law.
All of the state's nine incumbents were favored to win, allowing Republicans to maintain a 5-4 edge in the delegation.
Republican Rep. Roy Blunt also was campaigning for two positions. He could become majority whip -- the No. 3 post -- if Republicans retain control.
Early returns showed Blunt was poised to win a fourth term with a 73 percent margin over the 25 percent margin held by Democrat Ron Lapham, a janitorial service worker at a youth treatment center in Bolivar.
Blunt already is the deputy whip. He would hold the third most powerful leadership position as the party's chief vote-counter and arm-twister if he succeeds Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas as whip.
No surprises were expected for Republican Reps. Kenny Hulshof and Jo Ann Emerson, as well as for Democrat Rep. Karen McCarthy.
Emerson, who has made her own name known since filling her late husband's term in 1996, had a 69 percent margin to Democrat Gene Curtis' 30 percent.
In the 9th District, Hulshof was leading 68 percent to 26 percent over Democrat Donald Deichman.
McCarthy held a 51 percent lead over Republican challenger Steve Gordon's 41 percent in early returns.
Freshman Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay, who filled the 1st District seat held since 1969 by his father, captured a 61 percent margin to Republican Richard Schwadron's 37 percent.
In central Missouri's 4th District, Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton, who was seeking his 14th term, had 62 percent to GOP nominee James Noland's 36 percent.
Freshmen Republican Reps. Sam Graves and Todd Akin also were expected to roll to victory.
Akin, who was elected in the 2nd District after serving 12 years in the state House, had 72 percent of the vote to Democrat John Hogan's 27 percent. Hogan has run unsuccessfully for several state offices over the past 20 years, including the state House and Senate.
Graves had been placed on a list of 18 "endangered" GOP House members by party strategists at one point.