JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's midterm elections will feature a full slate of contests for the U.S. House and the Missouri Legislature but little in the way of competitive statewide races. The ballot also will include several proposed constitutional amendments. Here are a few things to know about the November elections.
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For the first time since 1990, Missouri's general election ballot won't feature races for any of the big three offices of president, U.S. Senate or governor. The only contest for a statewide office will be Missouri auditor, where Republican incumbent Tom Schweich appears headed for re-election. Schweich faces no Democratic opposition and has challengers only from the Libertarian and Constitution parties.
Missouri has elected a new member of Congress in each of the past several elections. But all eight incumbents are favored to win re-election this year. That could bring an end to the chain of change that began in 2008, when Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer won an open House seat in northeast Missouri. In 2010, Republican Vicky Hartzler ousted longtime Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton in west-central Missouri and Republican Billy Long won an open seat in southwest Missouri. In 2012, Republican Ann Wagner won an open U.S. House seat in suburban St. Louis. And last year, Republican Jason Smith won a special congressional election in southeast Missouri after Rep. Jo Ann Emerson resigned.
The biggest advertising battle may center on proposed Constitutional Amendment 3, which would change the way teachers and other school personnel are evaluated. The proposal would limit tenure protections and require public schools to adopt evaluation systems that rely largely on student performance data to make decisions about paying and retaining staff. The measure is being bankrolled by prominent political donor Rex Sinquefield and opposed by a coalition of education groups that are financed largely by teachers' unions.
One of the choices Missourians will face Nov. 4 is whether they want to be able to vote earlier in future general elections. Missouri currently allows absentee voting only for those who cannot make it to the polls on election day. Proposed Constitutional Amendment 6 would authorize a six-day, no-excuse-needed early voting period, ending the Wednesday before elections. But early voting still would not be allowed on weekends or after regular business hours, and it would occur only if the Legislature provides funding.
As always, all 163 Missouri House seats and half of the 34 state Senate seats will be up for election. But only a small portion of those races are expected to be highly competitive. Republicans are expected to retain control of both chambers. The question is whether Republican strength will grow, or whether Democrats will gain the few seats necessary to prevent the GOP from maintaining the two-thirds majority required to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's vetoes.