JEFFERSON CITY — Twenty years after Margaret Kelly became the first woman to hold statewide office in Missouri, female candidates were elected to two of Missouri’s top offices Tuesday.
Voters filled three of the state’s executive positions with new officers and re-elected their head prosecutor to a fourth term.
Democrat Robin Carnahan was elected secretary of state, Republican state Sen. Sarah Steelman was elected treasurer, and Democrat Jay Nixon was elected to a fourth term as attorney general.
The lieutenant governor’s race between Democrat Bekki Cook and Republican Peter Kinder was too close to call at press time. With 88 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, Kinder had 49 percent of the vote to Cook’s 48.4 percent.
Robin Carnahan defeated Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway in the race for secretary of state, a position being vacated by the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Matt Blunt. Hanaway conceded the race after she fell behind in early election returns. Again, with 88 percent of precincts tallied, Carnahan had 51.1 percent of the vote to Hanaway’s 46.4 percent.
Carnahan is the sister of Russ Carnahan, who won a Third District congressional contest to replace Dick Gephardt in St. Louis. She is also the daughter of former Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, who was in the midst of a campaign for the U.S. Senate when he died in a plane crash just weeks before the election in 2000. Mel Carnahan was elected posthumously and his wife, Jean, was appointed to the Senate in his place. She later lost a bid for election to the seat.
Steelman, of Rolla, won the treasurer’s race, outpacing Democratic candidate and Arnold Mayor Mark Powell, who made a strong bid despite Steelman’s monumental funding advantage. With nearly 90 percent of precincts reporting, Steelman had 51.1 percent of the votes to Powell’s 45.9 percent.
Steelman, who was re-elected to her second term as a state senator in 2002, will now take over a position that has vaulted three of its last four holders to higher office, including two — Mel Carnahan and Bob Holden — to the governor’s office.
Attorney General Jay Nixon was re-elected a third time, topping Republican candidate Chris Byrd by nearly 20 percentage points with 75 percent of precincts reporting.
Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates collected negligible numbers of votes in statewide contests. At press time, only Mike Ferguson and Lisa Emerson, Libertarian candidates for lieutenant governor and treasurer, respectively, had managed to win even 2 percent of the vote.