JEFFERSON CITY - Republicans completed a clean sweep of Missouri elections on Tuesday, taking control of the state House for the first time since 1954 and tightening their grip on the Senate.
The final details of the elections were still up in the air at press time. The secretary of state's office was reporting that the St. Louis election computer systems had crashed, and workers were in the process of faxing information to Jefferson City.
But the results of many races are still clearly in hand with Republicans making huge gains. House Minority Leader Catherine Hanaway is expected to become speaker when legislative session convenes in January, making her the highest-ranking woman in the history of the state legislature.
Republicans' success Tuesday exceeded even their wildest expectations, as they won more than a dozen House seats and at least two Senate seats that had been held by Democrats.
At press time, the new makeup of the House appears to be 91-68 for the Republicans with four seats not reporting results. The Senate appears to have a 19-13 Republican majority. Two Senate seats were too close to call at press time.
Throughout the campaign, both sides admitted the Democrats had at least two things working against them from the start: term limits and redistricting.
This year marked the first time Missouri felt the major effects of term limits, as 71 House incumbents and 12 senators were ineligible to run for re-election.
A majority of those veterans were Democrats, including many who had risen to leadership positions, including the House speaker and majority leader.
Some Republicans had complained that redistricting had been unfairly generous to Democrats, but it appears not to have helped.
In Senate elections, Republicans seem to have solidified what had been a weak majority. Nearly every close election was won by the GOP except for races in Springfield and suburban St. Louis that were too close to call at press time.
Secretary of State Matt Blunt said voter turnout in many areas was unusually high.
"We're very confident that we will exceed our 45 percent expectation for voter turnout," he said late Tuesday evening. "Some counties are reporting higher turnout than the presidential election, which is quite remarkable. It would be historic in a nonpresidential year to approach that amount."