Carole Iles, a Republican candidate for the Missouri Legislature, conceded defeat Tuesday night to Republican Ed Robb after garnering only 39 percent of the vote in a primary election that had a record number of people go to the polls in Boone County – 54 percent of registered voters cast their ballot.
But that was not the only upset. Democrat candidate Claire McCaskill took 51 percent in the Democrat gubernatorial primary beating incumbent Bob Holden, who received 42 percent of a state total of 1.4 million votes, a new record for ballots cast in a primary. Holden told supporters in Jefferson City that the Democratic Party now needs to unify to keep a democrat in office.
"I want all of you to know we are all Democrats, and we will work to elect this Democratic ticket in November 2004," Holden said. McCaskill will now face Republican candidate Matt Blunt who took 94 percent of the vote for his party.
In her hometown, Ashland, Iles was with friends and family at Woody’s Pub and Grub after hearing of the election results. Iles said she did not know what she was going to next, but did not regret running for the Republican nomination.
“It is really been great experience and has been very positive for me,” Iles said. “I have a lot of really good friends who have helped me every stop of the way.”
Robb, an economist from the University of Missouri-Columbia who gained 2,405 votes Tuesday, will now face Democrat candidate Travis Ballenger for the 24 district seat in the legislature.
Ballenger took an early lead Tuesday beating retired professor of political science Greg Casey.
Ballenger took 54 percent of the vote with 3,488 votes.
“Right now we are going to just enjoy the night,”? Ballenger said after the final return had been counted by the County Clerk. “It has been a wonderful turnout and we appreciate all the voters who came today.”
During the primary campaign, both Casey and Ballenger said they would support the candidate who won. Casey and Ballenger will meet today to begin informal strategy meetings, Ballenger said, and discuss what the two can do for each other as they head into the November election,
When the final vote was announced, Casey said he called Ballenger and announced that he would definitely endorse the Columbia businessman.
“He is a really nice guy and it was really pairing between the two of us,” Casey said of Ballenger. “He ran a good campaign and he will be the best for our district.”
But Casey was not only disappointed with the turn-out of his own race. The winner of the republican primary between Robb and Iles, he said, was something he did not expect.
“I felt badly for Iles going down in such defeat,” Casey “I really liked her and thought she ran a great campaign. I was really impressed with what a good person she was.”
The highly contentious race for the democrat nomination for Boone County Sheriff came to an end early in the night when candidate Dwayne Carey gained 60 percent of the vote with candidate O.J. Stone, deputy sheriff to current sheriff Ted Boehm, in a distant second with only 20 percent.
“Right now we feel good,” Carey said of his supporters. “All the hard work and dedication paid off. We will take a few days off and then get back to work.”
Ken Kriegh gained only 18 percent. Carey will now face Republican candidate for sheriff Mick Covington.
Democrat candidates for State Senate Tim Harlan and Chuck Graham battled most the evening with Graham winning by 698 votes when the final tally was recorded.
Graham will now face Republican candidate Mike Ditmore, who ran unopposed.
Residents of Rockaway Beach lost in their effort to amend the Missouri Constitution to allow gambling along the White River in the region. The measure lost 815,396 votes to 642,816. Supporters of the referendum said it would have created much needed jobs. Resistance to the measure, which began to build steam in the past two weeks, was spurred on by business owners and chamber of commerce of Branson – a family oriented tourist destination.
Voters, though, did approve a measure to amend the Missouri Constitution to define marriage in the state as being only between a man and woman. The amendment, which won 1.03 million to 427,472, effectively bans any possibility of allowing same-sex marriage, unless repealed in later elections, and even gives the state the authority to deny same-sex marriage licenses from other states.
Missouri is the first state to take such an action since Massachusetts became the first state in America to allow same-sex marriages and civil unions.
Whether voters were mostly Republican or Democrat, Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren said she was pleased with “phenomenal” number of voters that came to the polls.
“We had 54 percent of our active voters come out,” Noren said. “That is literally 50 percent more than I have seen in past primary election.”
In Ashland, the county assigned an extra polling place at the Ashland Senior Center expecting an increased number of voters for this primary election.
“We have had a steady stream of people all day,” election judge Verla Campbell said. Campbell was assisting voters at the Ashland Optimist Club and predicted at 5:30 p.m. that 700 people had already voted at that location.
In Boone County, more than 25,000 people went to the polls and that, Noren said was still missing a significant portion of Columbia’s population.
“Keep in mind we are missing 20 percent of our voting population,” she said. “With school out of session and many people connected to the university out of town, we don’t have those people voting in this election.”
With preliminary totals counted, Noren said this could easily become a new county record that would contribute to what Secretary of State Matt Blunt said would new a new state record as well.
“This entire election year cycle is just gearing up,” Noren said. “People are getting fired up on both sides. We will have a record turn out in the presidential election, too.”