Gov. Jay Nixon leads challenger Dave Spence 48 percent to 42 percent, with 9 percent undecided, according to a poll conducted for The Star.
Also in the race is Libertarian Jim Higgins, who received 1 percent in the poll.
Nixon, a Democrat, is ahead in his campaign for a second term despite Missouri’s Republican leanings. He touts his ability to work with Missouri’s Republican legislature and his stewardship of the economy in tough times.
Spence says Missouri has lost ground to more competitive states and that it’s time for someone with his business background to provide new leadership.
Ralph Saberry, one of those polled, said that even though he is a registered Republican, he plans to vote for Nixon.
“I think our current governor has been doing a good job,” said Saberry, who lives in Ozark, south of Springfield. “I think the state is in pretty good shape and don’t see any issues to run him off.”
But Susan Frame, a Republican who lives in Fair Grove, north of Springfield, said she thinks it’s time for a change, and she plans to vote for Spence.
“This state needs to have somebody who understands business,” Frame said. “We need to quit having politicians and lawyers managing our economy.”
Frame said Nixon claims credit for balancing the state’s budget and holding the line on taxes, but she thinks it was the Republican legislature that kept him in check.
Nixon, who served as attorney general for 16 years before being elected governor in 2008, points out that since his first year in office the state’s unemployment rate has been below the national average. In August, the state added 17,900 jobs, third most in the nation. And agricultural exports continue to rise, up 32 percent in 2010 and 17 percent last year.
Spence, the former CEO of a St. Louis-based plastics company who is seeking his first elective office, counters that one in six Missourians is on food stamps and median household income fell 3.2 percent last year to $45,774 — the lowest figure since 1994.Secretary of State
The race for secretary of state is extremely close, with Republican Shane Schoeller drawing 43 percent and Democrat Jason Kander polling at 40 percent — a difference within the 4 percent margin of error — with 16 percent undecided.
Constitution Party candidate Justin Harter was getting 1 percent. Cisse Spragins is the Libertarian candidate.
Incumbent Democrat Robin Carnahan decided against seeking a third term.
The two major-party candidates have widely differing views on the priorities of the office.
Schoeller is a Willard Republican who served as the chief administrative aide to Republican Matt Blunt when Blunt was Missouri’s secretary of state.
In 2007, Schoeller was sworn in as a member of the Missouri House, eventually rising to the position of speaker pro tem.
His main priority if elected would be to push for a requirement for all voters to present a government-issued photo ID before being allowed to cast a ballot. Missouri voters currently are required to provide some form of ID before casting a ballot, but a photo isn’t required.
Schoeller has also proposed a commission to review ballot summaries written by the secretary of state to ensure accountability and transparency.
Kander is a Kansas City Democrat who has been a member of the Missouri House since 2009.
He vows to push for campaign finance and ethics reform, pointing out that Missouri is the only state that allows lawmakers to accept both unlimited campaign donations and unlimited lobbyist gifts.
Incumbent Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, is leading Democratic challenger Susan Montee 46-41 percent, with 11 percent undecided.
Libertarian candidate Matthew Copple and Constitution Party candidate Cynthia Davis each polled at 1 percent.
Kinder is seeking a third term. He survived a bruising Republican primary this summer. After becoming lieutenant governor in 2004, he was the only Republican to win statewide office in Missouri in 2008.
Montee served one term as Missouri auditor before losing her re-election bid in 2010. She emerged from a crowded primary this year after stepping down as chair of the Missouri Democratic Party.
Incumbent Chris Koster, a Democrat, has a comfortable lead in the poll over Republican challenger Ed Martin, 51-37 percent, with 9 percent undecided. Libertarian candidate Dave Browning has 3 percent.
Koster is running on a theme of “all prosecutor, no politics” and is hoping to win a second term on Nov. 6.
Martin hopes Missourians are ready for a change from the incumbent, whom he routinely refers to as “Obama’s lawyer.”
Koster is a former Cass County prosecuting attorney and one-term member of the Missouri Senate.
He made Missouri political history in 2007, when he announced he was leaving the Republican Party. He said the decision came from longstanding differences with the GOP on issues such as stem cell research, workers’ rights and the nonpartisan court plan.
He was elected attorney general in 2008 as a Democrat.
Martin was chief of staff to Republican Gov. Matt Blunt. He also has worked for the Archdiocese of St. Louis as an attorney for anti-abortion and school-choice groups, and as chairman of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners.
One of Martin’s priorities would be to challenge what he believes is an overreaching federal government, specifically on health care.
Democratic incumbent Clint Zweifel is barely ahead of Republican Cole McNary, 42-39 percent, with 14 percent undecided. Libertarian candidate Sean O’Toole is polling at 5 percent.
Zweifel first won election to the Missouri House in 2002 by a 67-vote margin in his St. Louis County district. He was the only Democrat in Missouri to defeat a Republican incumbent that year.
In 2008, he won a four-way Democratic primary and narrowly defeated Republican Brad Lager to become treasurer.
McNary is the son of former St. Louis County executive Gene McNary, a well-known figure in Missouri Republican politics. Cole McNary ran successfully for the Missouri House in 2008 and won re-election in 2010.