Robin Carnahan Faces Election Night
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Robin Carnahan Faces Election Night

Date: October 28, 2010
By: Scott Kanowsky
State Capitol Bureau

ST. LOUIS - While Missourians voted in the hopes of fixing America's ailing economy, Scott Saberton made money from the staunchest supporters of Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Robin Carnahan. 

Saberton drove from his Oakville home to a posh downtown St. Louis hotel to support Carnahan and sell campaign buttons.

Saberton says he always stayed optimistic and supportive of Carnahan, even after a vicious campaign marked by controversial negative advertisements and harsh verbal grenades thrown from one candidate to the other.

"I believe that the best person is going to win," Saberton said about Carnahan. "There's a lot of negative campaigning going on.  That's the way it is with just about everybody, but I think she'll prevail over the negative."

He sat in a red chair next to a black table covered with a number of buttons marked with pro-Carnahan slogans, watching as supporters filed into the ornate ballroom in the St. Louis hotel.  

As the night progressed it became increasing clear Carnahan would not join national legislators on Capitol Hill in 2011.

And finally around 10:00 pm Tuesday night, joined by her brother (and incumbent U.S. Representative from Missouri's 3rd District, Russ Carnahan) she conceded her campaign to Republican Roy Blunt.

"Politics as usual is not going to cut it.  Our people deserve better," Carnahan said.  She said she talked with Blunt and encouraged him to put the good of Missourians ahead of special interests.

"To fix this problem we have to work together," she added to supporters.  "Never, ever let the fire go out."

Missouri current Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill spoke of Carnahan's political toughness.

"She's one tough cookie," McCaskill said.  "She's someone who embraces the servant part of public servant."

But the loss came as a surprise to Saberton.

"I haven't had a thought of her losing," he said--but he was adamant she would still be a force for good in Missouri even after the defeat.

The loss comes after Carnahan's campaign garnered nearly $9.64 million--with just over $8 million coming from individual contributions, according to the Federal Election Committee.

Like her GOP counterpart Blunt, Robin Carnahan comes from one of the most illustrious--and controversial--political families in Missouri.

Her father, Mel Carnahan, was the former Missouri governor and served numerous terms as a state legislator, treasurer, and lieutenant governor.

He died in a nationally reported plane crash while campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat in 2000.  His son, and Robin Carnahan's brother, Randy was killed too.

Finally, Russ Carnahan has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2005.

But even with this political pedigree, Robin Carnahan's current run for U.S. Senate has been mired in negative advertisments and controversy over her brother's northeast Missouri wind farm.

Saberton said he has been a supporter of the Carnahan family for the past five years--"I liked Mel"--and will continue to be after Tuesday's results.

But even after a defeat, Saberton still had reason to celebrate.

Election day was his birthday.

Before he left, Saberton said he had one goal: Get home to his family and the birthday dinner waiting at home.

Not that he did not already celebrate Tuesday.

"My boss gave me a birthday cake," he said.