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Will Missouri's Russ Carnahan Be a Casualty of Obamacare?

8:10 PM, Aug 4, 2010 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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As this map at the Missouri secretary of state's website shows, all 114 counties in the state voted against Obamacare's individual mandate yesterday in a referendum called Prop C, while only the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City supported the mandate. Three of Missouri's four Democratic representatives voted for the health care bill, but Lacy Clay of St. Louis and Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City probably have little to worry about from the Prop C vote.

It's congressman Russ Carnahan, who represents all of Jefferson and St. Genevieve counties and about half of St. Louis County, who could face some trouble. All three counties voted overwhelmingly for rejecting the individual mandate. Carnahan, who voted for health care overhaul, did not return phone calls today to comment on Proposition C. The seat is relatively safe for the Democrats (it was once held by Dick Gephardt), but Real Clear Politics notes in its analysis that newly-minted GOP nominee Ed Martin could mount a serious challenge, given the amount of money the Republican has raised:

Normally we would not give the Republican much of a chance in this D+7 district, but the Republican candidate, Ed Martin, the former Chief of Staff to Gov. Matt Blunt, has about as much cash-on-hand as the incumbent. If the wave gets big enough for the Republicans, this seat could wind up in play. 

Politics in Missouri is a family affair. Matt Blunt's father, GOP Rep. Roy Blunt, is facing Russ Carnahan's sister, secretary of state Robin Carnahan, for that state's senate seat. Fred Barnes profiled the Missouri Senate race in a recent issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD. The female Carnahan has been relatively quiet on the health care reform law since the bill passed earlier this year, but she confirmed in May on a local radio interview that she would have voted for the bill.

Missouri's other senator, Democrat Claire McCaskill, says "message received" on the issue, the Hill's Michael O'Brien reports:

McCaskill said she understood what Missouri voters had been trying to say about the healthcare reform law for which she had voted in the Senate. But the centrist senator downplayed the vote as a result of heavy Republican primary turnout and a lack of education about the effects of the law.

"I certainly noticed the vote on Prop C, the healthcare law, and: message received," she said Wednesday in a conference call with state reporters.

"I think there has been ... a lot of noise about the mandate that people have gotten so focused on that they don't realize that there's going to be more access and affordability and more choices," she said.

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