JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's Senate race represents one of the nation's most watched contests because the two major party candidates are formidable politicians with established names and large war chests.
Nonetheless, two small party candidates -- one, a mustard exporter, the other, a newspaper delivery man -- said they think they can win.
Running a self-financed campaign under the Reform party ticket, St. Louis businessman Hugh Foley said he offers Missourians a choice between Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan and GOP Sen. John Ashcroft.
"I'll do something neither of them will," he said. "I want effective campaign finance reform. The key word being "effective.""
Under his plan, only eligible voters could donate to candidates running for federal office. That means only voters living in a Congressman's district could donate money to the campaign during the primary.
The general election would be financed with federal money funneled to the candidates through the parties.
Neither Carnahan nor Ashcroft are saying much about campaign finance. Carnahan's camp said the governor would support the McCain-Feingold bill that seeks to ban so-called soft money.
Carnahan's spokesperson said Ashcroft has voted against the bill several times.
Foley, 65, has laid his political views down in a book called "The Delicate Illusion." Sales have been sluggish for the 1997 issue, Foley conceded. It is available on Amazon.com.
Foley, who runs a food export business out of his home, also proposes abolishing the federal tax code in favor of a national sales tax. He said no one should have a tax burden exceeding 25 percent of their income.
Come November, when a winner is anointed in the Senate race, Libertarian candidate Grant Stauffer might be the first to deliver the news.
Stauffer delivers newspapers for the Sun community newspapers in the Kansas City area. It is one of the "odd jobs" he said he performs to finance his "think tank" -- a one man research center where Stauffer digs into his pet topics.
Among these topics is the Jon Benet Ramsey killing. Stauffer scoured the Internet for any information related to the murder and poured his findings into a book called "Jon Benet-Thief of Hearts: a cyber-investigation."
"The whole world is convinced of the Ramseys' guilt but a lot of the things that turned up in print about the killing were untrue," he said. The book is published on-line.
Stauffer, twice a loser in races for Congress, said that in the Senate he wants to stop imminent domain seizures -- in which the government takes private property for public use -- and to put a stop on tax increment financing deals, or TIFs. TIFs are local tax breaks designed to encourage development.
He said he believes he can win.
"I looked at Jesse Ventura's campaign," he said. "I need to get to people who don't vote. They'll vote for guys who don't take contributions from corporations."
Stauffer said he has raised several hundred dollars. By comparison, Carnahan had raised $6.2 million as of July and Ashcroft $7.3 million.