John Cauthorn left the Missouri Senate due to term limits, it sparked
an entertaining political war in northeast Missouri.
The election featured Wes Shoemyer - a fiery populist Democrat from Clarence - and Bob Behnen - a genealogist from Kirksville who sponsored legislation to require ethanol in fuel.
The race wasn't that important in the grand scheme of things, as Democrats had effectively no chance to take back the Missouri Senate. But the contest proved to be one of the most competitive legislative elections of the cycle, causing both parties to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to take the seat. The race also featured some striking advertisements, including one from Shoemyer accusing Behnen of amassing a "record of shame" in the legislature.
Interestingly, many people have told me that Behnen was getting crushed early in the campaign. But after intervention from various political operations, Behnen's bid for the state Senate got back on course to some respect. But it wasn't enough to derail Shoemyer, who narrowly won the election to swing the seat for the Democrats.
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: I suppose competitive race is going to be memorable. But this one in particular gave me an education about the politics of northeast Missouri. Although much of the area is socially conservative, there is a local Democratic streak that dates back decades. And tapping into those voters in rural areas seemed to be a way for state Democrats to snap out of an electoral funk.
I would expect the region's somewhat unusual demographics - and a potentially good year for the GOP - to make this seat competitive in next year's election cycle.
FUN FACT: By the time the smoke cleared in 2006, a majority of state lawmakers from northeast Missouri were Democrats. Then-state Democratic Party chairman Roger Wilson attributed the swing to better organization and coordination. Then- House Speaker Rod Jetton blamed a sour national environment for Republicans.