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Democrats upset Republicans in special elections

February 07, 2006
By: David Castillo
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Democrats scored a surprise win in a Republican stronghold in special elections held Tuesday.

There were three races, two in the St. Louis area and one in southwest Missouri.

"On paper, these three districts all should have gone to the Republicans," said House Minority Leader Jeff Harris, D-Columbia. "These are districts that voted for George Bush and Gov. Blunt."

Democrat Michael Frame edged out Ed Groom, with 45 percent of the vote in the 105th district, which covers parts of Jefferson, Franklin and St. Louis counties.

In the state's 93rd district, which covers southwest St. Louis County, Republican Dwight Scharnhorst beat Democrat Genevieve Frank with 51 percent of the vote.

"I was very pleased with the results in the 93rd district," said Gov. Matt Blunt. "I congratulate all three winners and I look forward to working with them to provide a responsible state government."

It was the race in the 132nd district, however, that surprised both parties. Democrat Charles Dake managed to defeat Eric Seifried with almost 56 percent of the vote in a district that is considered a Republican stronghold. Dake's victory indicates a change in the political tide around the state, Harris said.

"This demonstrates that the Democratic message and values resonate with and clearly reflect the values of Missourians across the state," Harris said. "It has to be seen to some extent as a referendum on the governor and his allies in the legislature."

Republican party spokesman John Hancock noted that in the last year both parties have split the number of victories in special elections and dismissed Harris' idea that these elections are an indication of what November will bring.

"These elections are hard to read and turnout is so small," Hancock said. "If you look at all the special elections held in the last year it just shows that the election in November will be very competitive."

Hancock said that the loss in the 105th district was no surprise but admitted that the party was surprised about the loss in the 132nd district.

"This was a surprise, but we expect to win the seat back in November," Hancock said.

Blunt echoed Hancock's sentiments about the results in the St. Louis region.

"I think the St. Louis region in many ways were what folks might have expected," Blunt said.

Despite the two Democratic victories, Republicans in the House still maintain a strong majority, controlling 97 of the 163 seats.

"These elections show that Republicans have lost no ground," Hancock said. "We feel very good about what we're doing for Missourians."