St. Louis Congressman Russ Carnahan has a challenger who might be new to running for office, but certainly isn’t new to politics.

Democrat Russ Carnahan served as a state representative until winning election to Richard Gephardt’s seat in St. Louis in 2004. He says he has attempted to stay close to the district during his time in Washington and adds that the serious issues facing the nation demand a serious campaign.

“You know, I expect an active campaign, I always do. My dad always said, ‘You run like you’re ten points behind no matter what,’” Carnahan tells the Missourinet. “But part of that is just staying engaged, connecting with people, having this dialogue at a time when we have some big challenges.”

The big challenger facing Carnahan is Republican Ed Martin, former Chief of Staff for Governor Matt Blunt, who had never filed for political office before.

“I think people are really wanting a choice between the incumbent, Russ Carnahan, and me,” Martin tells the Missourinet. “I think we’re going to lay out that vision over the next seven or eight months and let people decide.”

Martin says he got used to the spotlight in his other roles, but has had to get used to the new kinds of pressures that accompany the candidate, rather than the staffer.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:60]