A tight race winds down to its last few days in the third Congressional District of St. Louis with both the incumbent and the challenger claiming momentum.
Both candidates say this election is about the direction of the country, but they’re looking at that in different ways.
Incumbent Democrat Russ Carnahan seeks his fourth term, claiming voters have a real choice November 2nd.
“Well, I think it’s really about the direction of our country,” Carnahan tells the Missourinet. “Whether we continue to make progress digging out of the deepest and longest recession in a generation or whether we go backwards.”
Carnahan accuses Republicans of wanting to return to Bush-era economic policies which he claims led the country into recession. Carnahan counsels that it will take a time to dig out.
Republican challenger Ed Martin agrees the election is about the direction of the country.
“So, I think it’s about big things,” Martin says in an interview with the Missourinet. “I think there have been elections that have been about personalities and about different moments in history. But I think this election is about the size and scope of government and exactly what the people want from Congress.”
While both candidates might contend the election is about big things, they both have focused on smaller incidents that they believe casts their opponent in a poor light.
Carnahan has criticized Martin for his firing of a staff attorney during his time as Governor Blunt’s Chief of Staff. Martin fired Scott Eckersley, now a Democratic candidate for the 7th Congressional District being vacated by Congressman Roy Blunt. The firing came as the Blunt Administration sought to block public release of e-mail correspondence within the governor’s office. Martin insists that Eckersley was fired for cause and that two investigations into the matter back his contention.
Martin questions the timing of a $107 million tax credit awarded to a wind farm in northwest Missouri operated by Carnahan’s brother Tom. Martin claims Tom Carnahan has intensely lobbied Congress for tax breaks for his wind farm and while Martin doesn’t accuse the Congressman of directly aiding his brother, he does claim the award illustrates the corruption behind a system that rewards those with connections. Congressman Carnahan strongly denies wielding any influence in the matter, stating that the economic stimulus law was constructed to allow no member of Congress to steer where the money went. He says more than a thousand companies have used the tax credit.
Carnahan rejects suggestions that the political winds are blowing at the backs of Republicans this election cycle. He feels a change among Democrats that should help the party in these last few days before the election.
Martin is running uphill in a district that traditionally favors Democrats. He senses that the people of the district aren’t happy with the direction President Obama and Democrats are taking the country and will vote for change on Election Day.
AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Congressman Russ Carnahan [9 min MP3]
AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Ed Martin [14:30 MP3]