Campaigns carry their efforts into the last hours before election

Monday, November 5, 2012 | 4:55 p.m. CST; updated 6:35 p.m. CST, Monday, November 5, 2012
From state to national levels, candidates across the country are getting in their last speeches and meet-and-greets before Election Day on Tuesday.

COLUMBIA — Candidates for federal state and local offices continued campaigning with earnest on Monday, just a day before an election that will settle races and issues that have been debated for months.

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., made a stop in Columbia this morning as a part of her statewide "Get Out the Vote for Victory" tour. She rallied roughly 30 supporters gathered at the Democratic Party headquarters and thanked volunteers. She said the campaign has made more than 5.7 million phone calls and visited 1.2 million households. Plans called for visiting 35,000 Boone County homes Monday and Tuesday.

McCaskill also planned to make stops in Springfield, Kansas City and St. Louis. She said she expects the race against Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin will be close.

"I'm proud of the effort we've made," McCaskill said.

Akin, meanwhile, made brief stops at various GOP Victory Offices in St. Louis and the surrounding suburbs of St. Peters, Florissant and Fenton on Monday. He said in a news release that he, too, would be thanking volunteers. His campaign did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Both major party candidates for governor — incumbent Democrat Jay Nixon and Republican challenger Dave Spence — included Columbia in their last-day tours of the state on Monday. Nixon mixed it up with veterans and other voters at Lucy's Corner Cafe at Fifth at Broadway, while Spence rallied supporters at the Republican Party headquarters in the Parkade Center on Business Loop 70.

At Lucy's, Nixon emphasized his work for veterans, particularly the Show-Me Heroes program. He was accompanied by Democratic secretary of state candidate Jason Kander, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who serves on the Missouri Veterans Commission.

Nixon was scheduled to campaign at Missouri State University in Springfield before flying to Kansas City for a rally Monday night.

Spence's rally was held in a poster-covered room with a small group of supporters. He arrived a little late with his wife and children, having attended a similar event in Cape Girardeau. Spence said he has attended around 1,700 rallies over the course of his campaign.

“I felt a source of pride to travel around Missouri today,” he said.

Spence planned stops in Liberty and Cassville on Monday as well. Cassville, he said, is a traditional stopping place for Republican gubernatorial candidates on the eve of elections.

“Of course I have to say that I am nervous about tomorrow’s election,” Spence said. “It feels like I’m in court and the jury is out deciding my verdict.”

After his appearance with Nixon, Kander spent his day making calls to voters from offices in Columbia and visiting voters at senior centers. He planned to attend a the Kansas City rally with the governor and other Missouri candidates Monday night. Kander thinks he'll prevail on Tuesday.

Shane Schoeller, Kander's Republican opponent, campaigned in southwest Missouri throughout the day. He said he was “very optimistic” about the campaign but also realizes it’s up to voters on Tuesday. That's why he wanted to reach as many as possible on Monday.

Legislative races

State Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, is challenging incumbent state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, for his 19th District seat. She said she's going to campaign until the very end. She and her team plan to canvass some neighborhoods today, and she'll be "bouncing around to different polling locations tomorrow," campaign staffer Drew Stiehl said.

"We have been able to join forces with the Claire McCaskill campaign, which multiplies our volunteers," Still said.

"I'm very optimistic," she added. "... And we're getting a good reception. We're hearing that the women are mad."

Schaefer said things were "pretty low-key" for his campaign Monday. He remembers the day before the election being a lot more hectic in 2008. "This time, we've got everything done early and on-time."

In addition to a couple campaign stops today and visits to polling places tomorrow, that "everything" includes keeping his ear to the ground.

"A lot of it is just making sure your final plans are on track and keeping track of what your opponent’s doing," he said. "It's about making sure there are no surprises."

So far, Schaefer reported he's heard nothing out of the ordinary. "Everything seems to be cruising along," he said.

The ballot includes contested races for three area seats in the Missouri House. Republican Caleb Rowden and Democrat Ken Jacob are seeking the 44th District seat, while incumbent Democrat Stephen Webber and Republican Fred Berry are competing in the 46th District. In the 47th District, the candidates are Republican Mitch Richards and Democrat John Wright.

Rowden said he would be out knocking on doors all day, despite the rain and cold. He said he's feeling great about Tuesday.

"My objective from the beginning of this campaign was not just to convince voters why Ken was the wrong candidate but why I am the right candidate. Through door knocking, ads on TV and radio, direct mail, etc., I think we have been able to accomplish that objective and am confident that will carry over to the final outcome tomorrow."

Jacob spent most of Monday campaigning. He said Monday afternoon he was on his way to the only duplex he had not yet visited. He said he feels “totally at ease” about the campaign, which he called the most positive one he has run.

Wright's campaign was focusing on its "get-out-the-vote" effort Monday. Workers planned to spend the day making phone calls to voters and leaving "remember to vote" cards at households throughout the district.

"We've run a positive campaign that focused on the big opportunities and challenges to the community," Wright said. "One of the things this process has reminded me of is that on Election Day tomorrow, no matter who you are, your vote counts as much as Warren Buffet's vote or President Obama's vote. So we're just trying to remind people to get out and exercise that right."

Richards attended the Spence rally on Monday afternoon. He said he would finish the day knocking on doors.

"I feel great about the campaign," Richards said. "We've had a really good response, and its been an enjoyable experience. I'm happy with what we've done and feel confident about tomorrow."

Neither Webber nor Berry could be reached for comment.

County commission races

James Pounds said the biggest thing on his mind the day before the election is keeping the public informed. The Republican candidate for Boone County Southern District commissioner attended a meeting of city, county and Columbia schools officials on Monday afternoon to keep informed about issues affecting those entities but also to be sure the public doesn’t “have anything willy-nilly dropped in their lap anymore.”

Afterward, Pounds planned to pick up campaign signs at the Republican headquarters, which he will take to various polling places tomorrow. Confident about Election Day, he said he would talk to voters at four or five polling locations.

Karen Miller, the incumbent Southern District commissioner, said he would spend Monday and Tuesday going about her work.

“If I haven’t made enough of an impression by now, it’s too late,” Miller, a commissioner for the past 20 years and a Democrat, said.

The two candidates for Northern District County Commissioner have different ideas for the county, but they share an attitude about the election tomorrow.

"I'm relieved that it's almost over," Democratic candidate Janet Thompson said.

"I'm thankful this is almost over," Republican candidate Don Bormann said.

After eating his usual breakfast of a single banana, Bormann spent Monday morning at his surveying business in downtown Centralia, doing research for a client's property dispute.

His lunchtime plans included a visit to the Conley Road Hy-Vee to speak to the Columbia Downtown Optimists Club about his experiences campaigning for office.

He will have little time to relax over the day. As a Centralia alderman, he must attend a committee meeting at Centralia City Hall on Monday night. After the meeting ends around 8 p.m., he plans to read the newspaper and watch some television.

"I'll try to get a good night's sleep," Bormann said.

It was just another workday for Thompson, too. At the Missouri State Public Defender Office on West Nifong Boulevard, she explored the options for a juvenile sentenced to life without parole.

"We have a lot of cases with kids serving life without parole, which is unconstitutional," Thompson said.

Thompson woke at 4:30 a.m. to do chores on her ranch. She cleaned her horses' stalls, fed them grain and hay and jogged her best prize-winner, Ozzie.

If it stops raining, Thompson will knock on doors in northeast Columbia after work. When she gets home this evening, she hopes to ride Lily, a 3-year-old American Saddlebred she wants to begin showing at equestrian competitions soon.

Although she is eager for the race to end, Thompson said she treasures the campaign experience.

"I've met so many wonderful people and learned so much about Boone County," she said. "No matter what happens, it's been a great experience for me."

Missourian reporters Mary Elgin, Stephen Johnson, Ie'shia McDonald, Caroline Michler, Hilary Niles, Richard Webner, Justice-Gilpin Green, Josie Butler and Raymond Howze contributed to this report.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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