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Missouri's New Governor Reluctantly Leads
By Jason Thompson
Washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 17, 2000
With the death of Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan (D), the state's second-in-command, Lt. Gov. Roger Wilson (D), now reluctantly takes the job that he refused to seek.
After more than 20 years in politics, including the last eight as lieutenant governor, Wilson surprised Democrats in 1998 by opting out of the 2000 governor's race in order to work in the private sector and spend more time with his family. Wilson will now assume the governor's office until January, when the winner of this year's race between Republican Jim Talent and Democrat Bob Holden is sworn into office.
Carnahan, who was attempting to unseat Republican Sen. John Ashcroft, was one of Missouri's most active chief executives who believed strongly in using the government's resources to bolster social needs.
More local coverage of Carnahan's death:
As Missouri's political leaders reacted to news of the plane crash, the Ashcroft campaign announced it would immediately cancel campaign appearances and suspend advertising.
The Carnahan tragedy is not the first time that Missouri has lost a political leader in an air accident. A similar crash in 1976 claimed the lives of two-term Rep. Jerry Litton and his family, who were en route to a victory party to celebrate Litton's win in the race for Missouri's Democratic Senate nomination.
According to the office of Secretary of State Jim Greibing, Missouri law requires that Carnahan's name remain on the ballot for the Senate election because his death occurred "after the fourth Tuesday prior to the election."
"I thought somebody ought to be here. It's silly, but I just thought somebody ought to be here. He was the best damn governor in the 25 years I have lived in this state." Chuck McPheeters, Jefferson City, Mo. resident, holding a lone vigil outside the governor's mansion at 4 a.m. Tuesday.
Citizens Mourn Outside Governor's Mansion
(Columbian Missourian, 10/17/00)
Jason Thompson can be reached at email@example.com. Early Returns runs Monday-Thursday.
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