Sen. Roy Blunt will defeat Democrat Jason Kander in the Missouri Senate race, The Associated Press projects. The race was one of the surprise Senate battlegrounds of the 2016 cycle.
Blunt led Kander 50 — 45 percent, with 90 percent of precincts reporting. Coming into Election Day, the race was rated Tossup by the Rothenberg & Gonzalez Political Report/Roll Call.
Missouri became one of the most hotly contested Senate races this election and a top priority for Democrats. Kander has been touted as a top Senate challenger of the cycle. He was unrelenting in advancing his status as a Washington outsider, which led to a tightened race. Kander conceded before the race was called early Wednesday morning.
“What a competition it was,” Blunt told supporters Wednesday morning. “How sweet it is to win.”
Blunt addressed his supporters just as it became clear Republicans would maintain control of the Senate, and GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump was close to winning the presidency.
“A Republican president and a Republican Senate and a Republican House can do things to change this country and focus again on opportunity,” Blunt said.
Blunt won a hard-fought race though. He was criticized during the race for his ties to the District of Columbia, including his home in Georgetown and family members who work as lobbyists.
Kander also had one of the most memorable campaign ads of the cycle, which highlighted his military service and position on gun control by showing him assembling a firearm blindfolded.
Blunt was able to overcome Kander, the Missouri Secretary of State, earning a second term in the Senate. He easily won election to the Senate in 2010, besting his Democratic opponent by roughly 14 points.
Before joining the Senate in 2011, Blunt served in the House of Representatives for 14 years, and previously as the Show-Me State’s secretary of State.
While in the House, Blunt rose to majority whip. In the Senate, Blunt continues his work as a social conservative but also works across the aisle. He recently worked as a key negotiator to reach a funding deal to combat the Zika virus. He also chairs the Senate Rules and Administration Committee and is in charge of running the presidential inauguration in January.
Missouri has leaned toward Republicans in recent years but is still a battleground. The other senator, Claire McCaskill, is a Democrat. The state was the center of unrest in 2014, following the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed young black man, at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
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