Dead candidate still in running


Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Sue Weber supported Mel Carnahan for Senate. She still does, even after his death in a plane crash nearly two weeks ago.

"He was a great man," said Weber, whose commitment to vote for the late Democratic governor drew a smile and shake of the head Friday from Larry Weber, her husband of 35 years.

"Why people would go ahead and vote for someone deceased is beyond me," said her husband, who has been backing Carnahan’s opponent all along.

The candidate is dead, but the Carnahan campaign is still very much alive.

Not only is his name still on the Nov. 7 ballot — it was too late to remove it — but polls taken after his burial show Carnahan still locked in a too-close-to-call race against Republican Sen. John Ashcroft.

Nationally, at least two people have won election to the House posthumously, but it appears no senator has ever been elected after death.

Carnahan, 66, his 44-year-old son Roger and a campaign adviser died in the Oct. 16 crash of a small plane Roger Carnahan was flying to a campaign rally.

Since then, Missouri Democrats have issued bumper stickers and buttons with the slogan "Still for Mel!" and put out the word that a vote for Carnahan is a way to honor the memory of the popular governor and is tantamount to putting his widow, Jean, in the Senate.

Jean Carnahan, 66, who has never run for office, said she will talk to her family this weekend and announce Monday — eight days before the election — whether she will accept Gov. Roger Wilson’s offer to appoint her to the Senate if her late husband outpolls Ashcroft.

"I still believe deeply in the cause for which my husband lived and died," she said. "These shared values are a permanent part of my being."

Jean Carnahan would serve until the next general election in November 2002.

Many voters weren’t waiting for her decision to declare their loyalty to her husband of 46 years.

"Any Democrat who fills the seat is better," said John Rogers, 34, a lawyer in St. Louis.

A poll published Friday in The Kansas City Star showed Carnahan still in a tie with Ashcroft. The Mason-Dixon poll taken on Monday and Tuesday — following Carnahan’s funeral — gave the men 46 percent each, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The pollsters also explained to voters Wilson’s plan to appoint Carnahan’s widow. With the additional information, Carnahan’s support rose to 47 percent, with Ashcroft at 45 percent.

During a campaign stop in Springfield, Ashcroft wouldn’t discuss the poll. A former two-term governor, Ashcroft said, "I’m going to work real hard to talk to people about the issues and the experience I have. I believe the people will respond positively."

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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