Blunt wins Missouri governorship
Republican, 33, projected as winner against Democrat McCaskill
(CNN) -- Republican Secretary of State Matt Blunt won the governor's race Tuesday in Missouri, narrowly defeating Democrat Claire McCaskill, CNN projected.
Blunt, 33, easily defeated several rivals in the primary contest. A former state legislator, he is the son of U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, the House Republican whip.
When McCaskill, a state auditor, defeated embattled Gov. Bob Holden in the Democratic primary, it was the first time in a decade that an incumbent governor had been dumped in a primary.
Holden placed blame on the GOP-controlled legislature's "extreme agenda" for the state's woes and accused McCaskill of being more interested in personal ambition than in governing.
The gubernatorial race attracted nationwide attention, especially from both the Bush-Cheney and Kerry-Edwards presidential campaigns.
In 2000, Bush carried the state with 50 percent of the vote, but Democrats prevailed in two other statewide races, including winning the statehouse.
The late Gov. Mel Carnahan, a Democrat, also won his Senate race posthumously, narrowly defeating now-Attorney General John Ashcroft.
While inseparable in the polls, the Blunt and were far apart on the issues.
In their final debate Blunt hammered away on a familiar theme -- how his values were more in tune with average Missourians -- and attacked McCaskill's husband, who formerly ran nursing homes that were cited for inadequate patient care.
He also sought clarification of her stand on the amendment to ban gay marriage, approved by voters in Missouri in August.
McCaskill, citing her three children and four stepchildren, said she supported the state law that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, but that -- as a lawyer -- she didn't believe in cluttering the Constitution with such issues and took umbrage at the shots taken at her husband, adding that it was hypocritical because Blunt owes his political career to help from his father.
McCaskill took the offensive, questioning Blunt's modest experience; he will be the second-youngest Missourian to be elected governor.
He cited Kit Bond, who was 32 when he was elected in 1972, saying that Bond turned out to be one of the state's most effective governors.
She shot back that youthful governors do not have a good track record, adding that both Bond and Bill Clinton of Arkansas were voted out by their states after their first terms because of the mistakes they made.