ST LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI) – If Republicans maintain control of the United States Senate after Tuesday’s elections, the party has Roy Blunt to thank for it. In a bitter and contentious race to retain his seat, Blunt fought off a strong challenge by Secretary of State Jason Kander, according to an Associated Press analysis and projection.
A second Blunt term in the Senate seemed highly likely this time last year, but the Kander campaign slowly made the race closer by going after Blunt’s tenure in Washington and ties to lobbyists in his own family. The race got harder for Blunt as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign steamrolled the GOP establishment. As late as last week, polling numbers appeared to show Blunt was having difficulty sealing the deal with Trump supporters in Missouri, where Republicans have won the state’s Electoral College votes since 2000. Trump was expected to carry Missouri on election day, but that didn’t stop the Clinton ticket from pouring millions of dollars to help down-ballot campaigns like those of Kander and Attorney General Chris Koster’s gubernatorial bid here.
Blunt’s closing appeal appears to have done the job of winning over voters who at the least wanted a Congressional check on a possible Clinton White House. Other observers said the late developments in the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s emails may have been a motivating factor to get Republican voters out to the polls, even after the agency announced that late review would yield no new conclusion.
Senator Blunt was watching returns with supporters in Springfield, while Kander was in Kansas City.