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( – promoted by Clark)

The last couple of weeks have seen a fair amount of new developments in Missouri House races.  Right now, the Republicans hold a 89-70 advantage, with four vacancies (16th 18th, 65th, 158th).  82 seats are needed to hand Minority Leader Paul LeVota the speaker’s gavel.  Since the 65th is a solid Democratic district, that leaves 11 seats that need to flip in 2008 for the Ds to capture the majority.

At this point in the election cycle, candidate recruitment is critical, and several races in competitive districts are starting to take shape.

In the 24th, a seat held by Republican Ed Robb in southern Boone County, former rep and Columbia Tribune columnist Chris Kelly has announced his candidacy.  This race was one of the most expensive in the state in 2006, with Robb edging out former Columbia schools superintendent Jim Ritter.  With Kelly in the race, the Ds have a credible candidate to take back the 24th.

Charlie Dake, the D who shocked the state by winning the very Republican 132nd district in a special election, only to lose to Don Ruzicka in November, has filed his paperwork for another shot at this seat.  Dake is likely the only candidate to give us a shot at taking this district.  But in a presidential election year, look for the Republican tilt of this district to be even more pronounced.

In the KC metro, Terry Stone has signed on for a rematch against pro-voucher incumbent Jerry Nolte in the 33rd.  Last time, Stone came within about 100 votes of knocking of Nolte in this Democratic seat.  Look for Stone to finish the job this time around.

In the 158th in Cape Girardeau, the Democrats have selected former Postmaster and current Cape Parks Board Chairman Mike Keefe to run in the February special election.  The Rs have not selected their candidate yet.  While it will be very difficult to take this Republican seat, it seems like Keefe is a home-run in candidate recruitment.  And the stench of corruption from Nathan Cooper might still be wafting over the local GOP.  This one bears watching a little closer.

Other districts that are potential targets for Democratic takeovers are the 1st, 5th, 7th (open), 15th, 17th, 20th (open), 21st, 36th, 38th, 47th, 48th, 85th, 86th (open), 91st (open), 92nd (open), 93rd, 94th, and 120th (open).

As a Western MO guy, I don’t know much about the 16th and 18th, although both seem like they may be competitive.  Any STL folks that care to enlighten us on those races?

What are the competitive races in your necks of the woods?