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Missourian voters pick Gore, Bush

March 07, 2000
By: Danel Aguirre, Dan Shaw and Jennifer Lutz
Links: The latest vote totals.
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Super Tuesday ended with Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore each scoring resounding victories in Missouri's presidential primary.

Bush won 58 percent of Republican votes. Gore won 65 percent of Democratic votes.

Arizona Sen. John McCain garnered 35 percent of the GOP vote while Democrat Bill Bradley, a Missouri native, each won 34 percent of his party's primary vote.

Only 745,000 Missourians voted -- well below the one million estimated by the Secretary of State.

"Thank you Missouri!" Bush said from Texas in a statement provided to the Missouri Digital News.

Missouri has nonpartisan voter registration under which participants selected a ballot from one of five recognized political parties. Two out of three primary voters selected the GOP ballot, a record according to John Hancock, executive director of the state Republican party.

"People are excited about the candidates, especially in Missouri," said Rep. Matt Blunt, R-Springfield, a Bush supporter.

On the Democratic side, Gore ruled. He won every demographic group, with the exception of self-identified independents and those with a post-graduate degree--each a very small portion of Democratic voters.

In a pattern familiar to observers of earlier primary contests, McCain carried self-described moderate voters but only one in five conservatives.

Almost one out of 10 Republican voters said they were a Democrat. McCain picked up 81 percent of those votes.

"Here in Missouri the message got out and we polled a lot of votes today," said Bush's uncle, Bucky, who joined GOP leaders at a Jefferson City rally Tuesday night. "It was very exciting."

Earlier in the day, Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, gripped in a bitter campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. John Ashcroft, ended months of silence when he endorsed Gore.

Endorsements from Democratic members of the General Assembly were divided between Gore and Bradley.

For some, Gore earned the nomination because of his work as Vice President.

"He is an extension of the Clinton Administration and has done a very good job of turning this country around and bringing about prosperity," said Sen. Bill Clay, D-St. Louis.

This White House link troubled some.

"I'm sick of hearing about Clinton, and Gore is in the middle of that," said House Speaker Pro Tem Jim Kreider, D-Nixa.

Kim Baldwin of the state Democratic Party, said Bradley defied early expectations that he would carry Missouri.

"His whole campaign just lost steam," Baldwin said.

Most Republicans legislators supported Bush.

A McCain supporter, Sen. Sarah Steelman, R-Rolla, anticipated his defeat.

"He hasn't really spent any money here," Steelman said.

The Show Me State paled in comparison to delegate-rich states such as New York and California.

None of the candidates spent much time here, with most campaigning at airport stops in Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis.