ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The Carnahan vs. Clay congressional race starts with a bang, with each raising ethical questions about the other.
Congressman William Lacy Clay Jr. says when he went to register for the race, the Missouri Secretary of States office — run by Congressman Russ Carnahan’s sister Robin — told him his name wasn’t on the voter file.
“We will probably ask for the oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice to come in here and monitor this election,” Clay said, “just to give me a level of comfort, just to give the voters of this district a level of comfort, that the cheat isn’t on.”
Robin Carnahan’s office issued a statement saying the problem was an honest mixup, that Clay’s name couldn’t be found because he told the clerk his name was “Lacey Clay,” not “William L. Clay,” the name on file.
“Secretary Carnahan has overseen four statewide elections, including some she was in, with opponents who never alleged any tilting in her favor. There’s never been any suggestion of impropriety. She’s able to run a fair election,” the statement said.
Congressman Russ Carnahan, meanwhile , took a swing at Clay, accusing him of failing to fight the new congressional district maps that erased Carnahan’s district.
“Ask Congressman Clay why he supported the Republican map that merged the core base of my district in with his,” Carnahan said.
Clay responded that Carnahan “needs to get his facts straight,” claiming that he wrote letters and lobbied against the new map to no avail.
Hinting at what kind of primary fight lies ahead, Clay said he was disappointed in Carnahan’s decision to run against him, noting that for twenty years the Clay family has delivered votes and money to several members of the Carnahan family running for office.
Carnahan says he hopes the courts still throw out the map that pits him against Clay, but added that he has a good chance of winning, because Clay’s district is “not the old 1st district .”
“It now includes the entire city of St. Louis and parts of central and north St. Louis County,” Carnahan said.
Clay responds that he “will emerge the victor,” because the new district is “80 percent” his old district.
On the issue of race, both men say they will seek to avoid what some analysts have said could be a nasty, bare-knuckles fight that’s “racially divisive.”
Some onlookers have warned the Clay-Carnahan fight in August could sour Democratic voters and weaken turnout for the November election, just when Governor Nixon and Senator McCaskill need good numbers.
“I think activating people energizes our party for November,” Carnahan said, “Chaos is the new normal in state politics these days.”
Meanwhile, St. Louis Mayor Slay wasted no time picking sides. He released a statement endorsing Clay.