JEFFERSON CITY - Missourians go to the polls Tuesday to select the state's next U.S. Senator, governor and a host of other statewide offices in a historic election that also will decide who controls the state legislature.
Turnout is expected to he high with tight contests both in-state and nationally.
The most-talked about race, replete with historical rarity and impact on the U.S. Senate's partisan make-up, pits Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo., against the widow of late governor Mel Carnahan.
Jean Carnahan said she would accept a proffered Senate appointment if her late husband, the first dead man ever on a Senate ballot, should defeat Ashcroft today.
Published polls in the closing days of the campaign have show Carnahan with a slight edge in the race.
Also in neck-and-neck in the polls is the race between Democrat Bob Holden and Republican Jim Talent in the state's gubernatorial race.
Talent, a four-term U.S. Representative from St. Louis County, has run on a plan to fix the state's roads, while Holden, the state's treasurer, urged Missourians to continue on the road paved by Mel Carnahan.
Last legislative session, Democrats held a slim edge in both chambers. With term limits popping up and many lawmakers seeking higher office, numerous seats are in play, especially in the state Senate where Democrats held just an 18-16 edge.
One state senator looking to move on, Joe Maxwell, D-Mexico, faces off with Republican Wendell Bailey in the lieutenant governor's race. Maxwell spent most of his early funding advantage defeating state Rep. Gracia Backer, D-New Bloomfield, in a bitter primary. Bailey, who has raised about one-fifth the money Maxwell raked in, is a former state treasurer and congressman.
The secretary of state's race features state House Speaker Steve Gaw running against a familiar name in Missouri politics, state Rep. Matt Blunt, R-Fair Grove.
Gaw has been speaker since 1996, while Blunt is the son of former secretary of state and current U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Former assistant treasurer and state Rep. Nancy Farmer, D-St. Louis County, faces Platte County prosecutor Todd Graves in the treasurer's contest. Farmer survived a crowded primary, and Graves has raised over $1 million.
Incumbent Attorney General Jay Nixon seeks re-election against the GOP's Sam Jones, a Lawrence county attorney who has held a variety of offices including heading up the state's tax commission. Jones has run a few cable TV ads while dealing with a serious funding disadvantage.