JEFFERSON CITY — A Republican tidal wave swept through Missouri on Tuesday, giving Roy Blunt a U.S. Senate seat, turning out an incumbent state auditor and handing Republicans a number of major state legislative victories.
"People want to hold onto the unique strength of America," Blunt said, declaring his victory a win for Missourians tired of the policies of President Barack Obama and national Democrats.
At an election-night victory party in Springfield, Blunt echoed a theme Republicans across the state and nation had voiced.
"This is the time when we decide whether we are going to renew the lease on freedom," he said.
While published polls had indicated the GOP would retain Kit Bond's U.S. Senate seat, the magnitude of Democrat defeats exceeded even the most optimistic predictions of Republicans.
Republican Vicky Hartzler won the U.S. House seat held by the veteran House Armed Services Committee Chair Ike Skelton. Republican Tom Schweich defeated incumbent State Auditor Susan Montee. And Republicans increased their majority in the state General Assembly by at least 19 seats.
In the western Missouri 4th Congressional district, Republican Vicky Hartzler had portrayed Skelton as a tool of House Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Skelton, who has served as in Congress since 1977, campaigned as an advocate for military service men and women. He had been described as a moderate to conservative member of the Democratic Party.
"For my entire life, I've had a love affair with the state of Missouri," Skelton told about 50 supporters at his election-night watch in Lexington. "That love affair continues."
Skelton, who had never lost an election before, called representing the people of his district the "political highlight of my life."
In the state legislature, Republicans made major gains — capturing at least 19 House Democratic seats and at least two Senate seats.
Among the Democrats defeated were two of the more moderate, rural members — Sen. Wes Shoemeyer, D-Clarence, and Sen. Frank Barnitz, D-Lake Spring. Both had identified themselves as rural, more conservative alternatives to the party's liberal, urban wing. Barnitz had been the chair of the Senate Democratic caucus.