Rep. Russ Carnahan (D)
Elected: 2004, 3rd term.
Born: July 10, 1958, Columbia .
Home: St. Louis.
Education: U. of MO, B.S. 1979, J.D. 1983.
Family: Married (Debra); 2 children.
Elected office: MO House of Reps., 2000-04.
Professional Career: Practicing atty, 1988-96; Consultant, BJC HealthCare, 1996-2004.
The congressman from the 3rd District is Russ Carnahan, a Democrat elected in 2004. He succeeded Richard Gephardt, a Democrat who rose to party leader in the House and who twice unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president. Carnahan is the son of the late Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan and former Sen. Jean Carnahan, who was appointed to the Senate seat her husband had won shortly after he died in an airplane crash in October 2000. Russ Carnahan grew up in Rolla and graduated from the University of Missouri and its law school. He practiced law with his wife, Debra, until 1996, when he took a job as a lobbyist and consultant with BJC HealthCare, which operates several nursing homes and hospitals. In 1990, he ran unsuccessfully against Republican Rep. Bill Emerson in the old 10th Congressional District in southeast Missouri. In 2000, he was elected to the state House, and after the 2002 election, became chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Two years later, he ran to succeed Gephardt, who was running for president.
|Russ Carnahan (D)||202,470||(66%)||($883,674)|
|Chris Sander (R)||92,759||(30%)||($32,444)|
|Russ Carnahan (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (66%), 2004 (53%)
Carnahan was among four current or former state legislators in the primary. Opponents ganged up on him, claiming he had a thin legislative record and was trading on his family name. His toughest opponent turned out to be Jeff Smith, a youthful political science instructor at Washington University in St. Louis. He was endorsed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and assembled a large corps of volunteers. Gephardt remained neutral, but many of his allies backed state Sen. Steve Stoll, who supported gun rights and opposed abortion. It turned out to be a very close race. Carnahan won with 23% of the vote; Smith finished second with 21%, and Stoll had 18%. Smith led in St. Louis City and County; Stoll led by a wide margin in Jefferson and Ste. Genevieve counties; Carnahan ran second or third in each—a sign that he had greater name recognition but lacked a committed core of supporters. In the general election, Carnahan faced Republican author Bill Federer, who spent heavily and ran on a platform of opposing abortion in all circumstances and most gun control laws, including a ban on assault weapons, which Carnahan supported. Carnahan called for increased funding for education and said that he would “retarget” Bush’s tax cuts to the middle class. Carnahan won 53%-45%. Federer led 50%-48% in Jefferson County, but Carnahan carried St. Louis County, 52%-46%, and St. Louis City, 61%-36%.
In the House, Carnahan voted near the center of his party but a bit more conservatively on foreign policy. He helped to whip up support for a bill to provide federal funding for embryonic- stem-cell research, which uses excess embryos from in vitro fertilization. He worked with colleagues to enact the Combat Meth Act, with tough restrictions on production of methamphetamine, a major problem in Jefferson County. He also won passage in 2007 of a bill shifting federal land to St. Louis County to open access to a new casino in Lemay. Carnahan’s wife has served on the national board of Planned Parenthood, and he has pushed for increased funding for contraceptives in developing nations.
Carnahan has had two easy re-elections. Smith, runner-up in the 2004 primary, thought about another run but instead sought and won a state Senate seat. In the 2008 presidential contest, Carnahan endorsed Barack Obama in May 2007 and encouraged him to campaign actively in Missouri.