Robb wrangles 24th House seat

He will be the first Republican to hold the seat since 1982.
Wednesday, November 3, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:08 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

Republican Ed Robb wrestled from Democrats the 24th District seat in the Missouri House of Representatives on Tuesday, winning the election over Democratic opponent Travis Ballenger.

“It starts early tomorrow morning,” Robb said as he gathered with other party faithful at the Holiday Inn Executive Center to monitor election returns. “We have to be in Jefferson City at 11.”

Robb said he would stay late into the night attending meetings at the Capitol.

When he takes the oath of office on Jan. 5, the opening day of the General Assembly, Robb will become the first Republican to hold the seat since Larry Mead, who stepped down from the post in 1982 to make an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Congress.

Robb will replace Chuck Graham as the legislator representing a district that includes much of southwest Columbia along with Ashland and Hartsburg. Graham was elected to the state Senate on Tuesday after term limits prevented him from seeking re-election to the House seat he first won in 1996.

Both Ballenger, 33, and Robb, 62, identified funding for elementary and secondary education as their top priority, and that issue proved to be the most contentious.

Robb wants to eliminate the state’s so-called foundation formula and instead distribute state money to schools on a strictly per-pupil basis.

Ballenger supported reworking the foundation formula to make it more equitable. He also proposed raising money for schools by increasing taxes on casino owners, eliminating casino loss limits and closing what he called corporate tax loopholes.

The campaign grew ugly leading up to Election Day as the candidates unleashed ads attacking each other on education funding.

Nonetheless, on Tuesday evening Robb characterized his campaign as “very positive.”

“We tried to stay on the issues because the issues are important,” he said. “We wanted to stay away from the political rhetoric.”

Robb said he stopped campaigning at 9 p.m. Monday and spent Election Day cleaning around the house. He said it took him two hours to clean the campaign materials out of his car.

After 30 years at MU, Robb retired in 2002 from his position as director of the State and Regional Fiscal Studies Unit and the Economic Policy and Analysis Center. He now runs his own economic consulting firm, Edward H. Robb & Associates, in Columbia. Ballenger was not among the Democrats gathered at the party headquarters in the hours immediately after polls closed and could not be reached at his home or through his campaign manager.

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