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Kelly, Robb take campaign all the way to the wire

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 | 9:07 p.m. CST; updated 9:15 p.m. CST, Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Missouri House of Representatives candidate Chris Kelly walks out to meet and shake hands with Ashland resident Jan Ward outside of the Ashland Senior Center in Ashland on Tuesday afternoon. Kelly arrived at the Ashland polling place at 6 a.m. and said he planned on staying until polls closed to show his gratitude to Ashland's supportive voting community.

Chris Kelly has never lost an election race in 30 years of public service. He doesn't intend to lose this one either.

Ed Robb is undefeated in his two races for the 24th District seat in the Missouri House. He doesn't intend to lose this one either.

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That's why both were campaigning all day Tuesday as voters went to the polls. Kelly focused on Ashland; Robb floated around Columbia polling places.

Both Kelly and Robb have campaigned relentlessly for months. Kelly has personally knocked on more than 10,000 doors in the 24th District, he said. On Monday alone, the day before the election, Kelly knocked on 500 doors. Robb and his campaign have also done the door-to-door thing, but Robb also has relied heavily on an aggressive television and radio campaign.

Neither let up on Election Day. Kelly was up before dawn, voted by 6:15 a.m. and was in Ashland greeting voters by 6:30 a.m. He intended to stay just outside the polling place until the last of the ballots was cast.

For Kelly, it's down to the wire.

"It's going to be a close race," Kelly said. "I'm out here to greet folks and let them know I appreciate their consideration."

Working the precincts is nothing new to Kelly. Back in the 1980s and the early 1990s, then state Rep. Kelly could always be found greeting voters on their way to the polls.

Getting out in the community and meeting potential supporters not only helps his chances as a candidate, but it also makes him a better statesman, he said.

"You have to get out there and talk to people," Kelly said. "By listening to their problems and talking about how you can help them, you become a better representative."

Kelly came to Ashland because people here know him, he said. Green "Chris Kelly For State Representative" yard-signs pepper the main drag of a small town that has Republican leanings and has voted for Robb in the past two elections.

"I am very grateful for the support I've gotten in Ashland, and I wanted to express that," Kelly said.

He also realizes such rural precincts are of strategic importance.

"Practically speaking, this is one of the lower-voting Dem precincts," Kelly said. "I want to chip into that if I can."

Kelly admits this is the hardest election he's been in. He had said earlier in October that the race would come down to a thousand voters or a couple hundred more door knocks. It might be closer than that.

In 2006, Robb narrowly defeated Democrat Jim Ritter, breaking state fundraising records to carry the election by 200 votes.

Still, Kelly isn't worried about losing.

"I was (nervous) two weeks ago, but I'm really not now," Kelly said. "You get nervous at night when you can't do anything, but when I'm out there talking to people, I'm not worried at all."

Robb had originally planned to take it easy on Election Day. After months of politics, the former MU economist said he wanted to spend some time at home.

"This afternoon I've got some yard work to do," Robb said. "I figure today would be a great day for that."

Robb said that at this point in the game, campaigning more could only hurt. "There's not a lot you can do today for campaigning," Robb said. "It's just not a good idea."

Robb apparently figured the garden could wait, though. Later, only hours before the 24th District contest would end, Robb's wife, Rosa Robb, confirmed that her husband would be visiting polling places and meeting voters until the watch parties begin.


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