Kerry should win here easily, as will state Sen. Barack Obama (D) in his bid to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R). Obama, whose keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention was well received, faces extraordinarily weak opposition from Alan Keyes (R) in a rare Senate race involving two black nominees. Rep. Philip M. Crane (R) faces one of the toughest challenges in his 34-year House career from businesswoman Melissa Bean (D). She has accused him of taking junkets and being out of touch. Politics professor Dan Lipinski (D) should have no trouble winning the seat that his father, Rep. William O. Lipinski (D), is vacating.
Bush will win here. There is a tight gubernatorial race between Gov. Joseph E. Kernan (D) -- who was lieutenant governor when predecessor Frank L. O'Bannon died last fall -- and Bush's former budget director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. (R), who has been campaigning since July 2003. Polls give Daniels a slight edge, and Bush's popularity should help, but his victory is not assured. Sen. Evan Bayh (D) is favored to win reelection over Marvin Scott (R), a sociology professor. Rep. Baron Hill (D) faces a stiff challenge from GOP businessman Mike Sodrel, who lost to Hill by 9,485 votes in 2002. Rep. John N. Hostettler (R) is favored to hold off a challenge from former Boston Celtics scout Jon Jennings (D), and Rep. Chris Chocola (R) should survive Democratic businessman Joe Donnelly's bid.
Polls have put the Show Me State in Bush's column, and Kerry stopped airing ads here. But Democrats have not completely surrendered. Third-party groups have continued running anti-Bush ads, and labor activists are backing a major get-out-the-vote effort that conceivably could produce a Kerry upset. State Auditor Claire McCaskill defeated Gov. Bob Holden in the Democratic gubernatorial primary and now is in a tight race against Secretary of State Matt Blunt (R). Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R), running against state Treasurer Nancy Farmer (D), seems headed toward a fourth term. In House races, Russ Carnahan (D), son of two well-known Missouri politicians, is poised to replace retiring Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D). Former Kansas City mayor Emanuel Cleaver II (D) is favored to succeed retiring Rep. Karen McCarthy (D). Recent polls, however, show Republican Jeanne Patterson within shouting distance.