McCaskill Upsets Talent for Mo. Senate

The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 8, 2006; 8:17 AM

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Democrat Claire McCaskill defeated incumbent Sen. Jim Talent early Wednesday in one of the nation's most closely contested races, a campaign that focused on McCaskill's support for a stem-cell research referendum.

McCaskill was swept into office along with the passage of a state constitutional amendment enshrining the right to conduct embryonic stem cell research.

Spending on the stem cell proposal and Senate contest each easily topped $30 million. A McCaskill stem cell research ad featuring actor Michael J. Fox _ swaying noticeably from the effects of Parkinson's disease _ drew nationwide attention and the skepticism of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.

It also prompted opponents of the ballot measure to hasten their own star-studded ad and cemented the mixing of the Senate race and stem cell initiative.

Talent opposed the stem cell initiative because it would allow a cloning procedure that he says destroys human life at its earliest stages.

McCaskill entered the final campaign weekend with a 24-hour push in the Democratic stronghold of St. Louis, stopping at diners, auto plants and grocery stores in the middle of the night.

President Bush appeared with Talent at two rallies in the Republican bases of Springfield and Joplin. Talent made two or three final-week trips to rural southern Missouri, which helped him eke out a 1-point victory over Democrat Sen. Jean Carnahan in a special 2002 election.

McCaskill narrowly lost the 2004 gubernatorial election before deciding to challenge Talent.

© 2006 The Associated Press