Congressional Quarterly -- a little slow on the trigger this time -- has determined that the race for Missouri governor now leans Democratic.
Attorney General Jay Nixon, a Democrat competing in his seventh statewide campaign, has led the polls for weeks over U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, a congressman popular in his northeast Missouri district but making his first run statewide.
In addition, Nixon started his bid for governor three years ago while Hulshof got a late start, entering the race in last January after Republican Gov. Matt Blunt decided not to seek re-election.
Add in the burgeoning economic problems and a general dissatisfaction with the Republican leadership at the national level and you’ve got a tough situation for Hulshof. The six-term congressman has been campaigning hard, proposing new plans to help urban schools and to increase oversight and root out corruption in government operations.
Hulshof also is using big infusions of cash to bash Nixon’s record over 16 years at attorney general. So far, however, little of the mud has appeared to stick and Nixon has plenty of resources to fire back, casting Hulshof as a tool of Washington lobbyists who supported the economic policies at the heart of the current troubles.
Congressional Quarterly says Nixon’s edge “is partially attributable to his own political strengths” and better name recognition. Hulshof, meanwhile, is “held in high regard by most of his House constituency in northeastern Missouri, (but) is hindered somewhat in that he’s a member of the congressional Republican Party that is held in low esteem by most of the voting public.”