Missouri elects dead man as senator

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The Independent US

Citizens of Missouri have elected a dead man to the Senate, choosing Governor Mel Carnahan - who was killed three weeks ago in a plane crash - over Republican incumbent John Ashcroft. Carnahan's widow had agreed to take her husband's place.

Citizens of Missouri have elected a dead man to the Senate, choosing Governor Mel Carnahan - who was killed three weeks ago in a plane crash - over Republican incumbent John Ashcroft. Carnahan's widow had agreed to take her husband's place.

With 84 per cent of the state's precincts reporting, Carnahan had 1,075,872 votes, or 50 percent. Ashcroft, a Republican, had 1,039,409, or 49 percent.

The plane crash that killed Carnahan, his son and an aide last month turned the nationally watched contest against Republican Senator John Ashcroft from notoriously bitter to bizarre.

The crash occurred too late to revise the ballot. No one had ever posthumously won election to the Senate, though voters on at least three occasions sent deceased candidates to the House.

Governor Roger Wilson, who took office after Carnahan's death Oct. 16, said he would appoint Carnahan's 66-year-old widow, Jean, to a two-year term should Ashcroft lose. Mrs Carnahan became the implicit challenger when she declared herself strong enough to accept appointment.

Some Republicans had threatened a court challenge if that happened.

Early Wednesday, as her husband pulled ahead, she addressed hundreds of St. Louis-area supporters by phone from her home in Rolla.

"You have stayed the course; you have kept the faith; you have carried our hopes and dreams," she said.

"Lincoln never saw his nation made whole again," she said. "Martin Luther King never finished his mountaintop journey. My husband's journey was cut short, too. And for reasons we don't understand, the mantle has now fallen upon us."

Ashcroft, 58, resumed his campaign eight days after the crash, airing a new TV ad. Meanwhile, the late governor's campaign spent dlrs 700,000 to broadcast Mrs. Carnahan making a direct appeal to voters to keep her husband's vision alive.

Ashcroft, a favorite of religious conservatives when he mulled a White House bid, signed restrictive abortion laws as governor that later were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Carnahan, who served one term as Ashcroft's lieutenant governor and succeeded Ashcroft, vetoed further abortion restrictions as well as concealed weapons legislation.

For years, Missouri political analysts and observers have remarked on the dislike between the two, although Ashcroft and Carnahan both denied it.

Their campaign featured allegations of racism against Ashcroft and a response that included a 40-year-old photo of Carnahan in blackface. They also battled over capital punishment, a controversy generated by Carnahan's decision, at Pope John Paul II's behest, to commute a murderer's death sentence.

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