In the midst of a Democratic sweep of statewide races, Lt. Gov. Kinder is the sole Republican
When the dust settled, incumbent Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder stood alone as the surviving Republican in Missouri's down-ballot races, defeating Democrat Sam Page of Creve Coeur by 74,034 votes.
"The people have spoken in a mixed message," Kinder said about Democrat Jay Nixon's gubernatorial victory and the continued Republican control of the state legislature. "I think the people expect us to work together."
In the contentious race for attorney general, Democrat Chris Koster beat Republican Mike Gibbons of Kirkwood by just over 157,000 votes, while Democrat Clint Zweifel of Florissant came from behind to defeat Republican Brad Lager of Savannah for state treasurer by 90,000 votes.
Democrat Robin Carnahan of St. Louis held on to her job as secretary of state, handily defeating Republican Mitch Hubbard of Fulton with 61.8 percent of the vote.
Here is a roundup of the down-ballot races:
Kinder thanked his campaign and his family for putting up with "Kinder-mania," at his victory party at the Drury Plaza in Chesterfield.
"I mean it when I concede no vote," said Kinder, as his supporters chanted "Peter, Peter!"
Kinder's supporters began the long night of election watching with small smiles, but those smiles grew wider as exit polls showed the incumbent lieutenant governor leading his Democratic challenger by a sizable margin.
Some supporters wore their hearts on their sleeves -- literally -- sporting Kinder stickers as temporary tattoos.
Students Hannah Diamond, Kevin Grillot and Caitlin Boyce had all met the lieutenant governor for the first time at a meet-and-greet several weeks ago. Afterward, Boyce said, the group "Googled" Kinder and researched his positions. While the students were drawn to his positions on abortion and other pro-life issues, they said that meeting Kinder face to face sealed their support.
"He talked to us about us, not just about himself," Boyce said.
Page met with family, friends and supporters on the second floor of the Regional Arts Commission building in the University City Loop area.
His sons knelt on the floor in front of a large screen TV set, playing cards and keeping track of the presidential election by using blue markers to color in states called for Barack Obama and red markers for states called for John McCain.
"Missouri is going in the wrong direction,'' Page said in an interview before the race was decided. "My entire life has been dedicated to helping people. I will continue to fight for access to quality and affordable health care and economic opportunities for people of Missouri."
Page said he learned that most people in Missouri are hard working and sincere and just want an opportunity to improve their lives and get ahead.
"It's been a great civics lesson for my kids, a great experience for them," Page said.
The race between Kinder and Page grew increasingly nasty in the days leading up to the election. The office has a limited portfolio of responsibilities, but that didn't stop Kinder, whose father was a physician, and Page, an anesthesiologist, from sniping at each other over Medicaid, other health-care issues, support for veterans, even the Tour of Missouri bicycle race. Kinder has made the bike race a showpiece of his tenure as lieutenant governor, while Page has called it a misuse of state development funds.
With polling pointing to a win by Nixon, Kinder took pains to highlight his ability to work with Democrats in Jefferson City and in the state's urban areas.
With about 80 percent of the votes counted, Gibbons conceded about 10:45 p.m. to a standing ovation of about 100 supporters who gathered at the Magic House in Kirkwood and chanted "We like Mike."
Gibbons said that despite the spectacular efforts of his supporters, he faced a vote margin that he could not make up.
"It's a tough climate -- a very difficult win for Republicans. And we couldn't overcome it. Sometimes that happens,'' Gibbons said.
Until a year ago, Gibbons and Koster, were both Republicans in the state Senate. But when Koster switched to the Democratic party, citing philosophical differences with the GOP, state politics took a wild turn - first in the primaries and then in the general election.
Gibbons, currently the majority leader of the Senate, ran unopposed in the Republican primary, while Koster eked out a win over a competitive field of Democratic candidates, including state Rep. Margaret Donnelley of Richmond Heights who demanded a recount. Koster not only took heat for switching parties, but was dogged by widely reported criticisms made by his ex-wife and charges that his campaign violated state fundraising laws. Those charges were dismissed by the state Ethics Commission.
Gibbons and Koster waged a verbal war with one another in commercials, gradually upping the ante from differences over party philosophy to Gibbons accusing Koster of ties to a mob family and Koster accusing Gibbons of supporting clemency for a rapist.
Gibbons, a lifelong resident of Kirkwood, stressed his legislative leadership and ability to get things done by reaching out to opponents across the aisle.
Koster, the son of late St. Louis journalist Rich Koster, stressed his 10 years of trial experience as a prosecutor in Cass County. Koster has vowed to be an "activist attorney general'' who would tackle Medicaid fraud and stand up to corporate interests.
On election night, Zweifel met with supporters at Joe Edwards' Pin-Up Bowl, just down the street from Edwards' Pageant nightclub where Nixon was hosting his gubernatorial victory party.
Amid the clatter of balls striking pins, Zweifel (right) arrived shortly after 8 p.m.
He said the campaign had been a special journey.
"Every single day, you're amazed by the human spirit and the fact that people come together from different backgrounds for a common cause," Zweifel said. "It's been an amazingly rewarding experience; I feel lucky I've had it."
Zweifel grew up in North St. Louis County and graduated from the University of Missouri - St. Louis. He served as research and education director for Teamsters Local 688 and has the endorsement of the state's unions.
Zweifel was elected to the House in 2002, winning his seat by just 67 votes out of 13,000 cast. He was reelected in 2004 with 70 percent of the vote and ran unopposed in 2006.
Zweifel said his campaign taught him that "there are concerns that all Missourians have in common ... access to health care, making sure we make decisions that encourage capital investment and real job growth in our state, making sure that education is something that we really prize and invest in and make affordable to everyone. Those are value issues that touch everyone in the entire state."
Win or lose, he said, "I'm at peace where things are. Things are great."
Zweifel and Lager, a state senator from Savannah, are both in their early 30s. The treasurer candidates, for the most part, limited their shots at one another in the treasurer's race to differences in economic philosophy.
Lager stressed his experience as a small business owner and vowed to use fiscal restraint in making government "better not bigger.''
Zweifel argued that being fiscally liberal or conservative isn't as important as being "fiscally smart." Zweifel had been highly critical of Gov. Matt Blunt's Medicaid cuts and took Blunt and state Republicans to task for what he referred to as the "raiding'' of MOHELA, the state student loan agency.
Secretary of State
Carnahan, who was winning by a margin of about 26 points, had the all-around advantage in the secretary of state's race. With her well-known political name and ample campaign fund, the incumbent faced little opposition from her Republican challenger. Hubbard raised minimal campaign funds, relying instead on word-of-mouth and public forums to reach voters.
Carnahan, daughter of late Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan and U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan, ran on her record, pointing to improved efficiencies in the way her office does business, such as online business registration and improved accessibility to public records through the secretary of state's Web site. She also pointed to her work in regulating securities, including her role in forcing a $9 billion settlement with Wachovia Securities to return investments to investors who had been misled.
Hubbard, who has been active politically in recent state campaigns against stem-cell research, challenged Carnahan for writing ballot language that he calls unfair and said she has not taken the issues of voter fraud seriously.
Beacon reporters Mary Delach Leonard, Bill Smith, Elia Powers, Amelia Flood and Dale Singer contributed to this story.