Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Missouri Governor's Widow May Wind Up in Senate

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Missouri Governor's Widow May Wind Up in Senate

Article excerpt

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A movement is under way among Missouri Democrats to install Gov. Mel Carnahan's widow in the Senate seat he was seeking when he was killed in a plane crash.

Missouri's new governor, Democrat Roger Wilson, yesterday said he has offered to appoint Jean Carnahan to the Senate if her late husband gets more votes than his opponent, Republican Sen. John Ashcroft, on Nov. 7.

Jean Carnahan did not immediately accept the offer, but Wilson's spokesman said she would consider it. She did not return calls to the Governor's Mansion, where she continues to reside.

The Carnahan-Ashcroft race had been a tie before the Oct. 16 plane crash that killed the governor, his son and a campaign aide. By then, it was too late under law to remove Carnahan's name from the ballot.

Wilson acknowledged he is asking voters to take a strange step on Election Day and vote for a dead man, but he said "that's what I'm going to do."

Republican leaders warned that Wilson's promise could be illegal under federal law, which bars pledges of appointments to win votes in congressional races. They said a legal challenge is possible.

Jean Carnahan, 66, has never run for or held elected office, but she has been involved in her husband's political career, including campaigning and organizing issue drives, and she has been popular on the campaign trail. She has a degree in business and public administration from George Washington University. The couple had been married 46 years.

While she has not publicly discussed a bid for the Senate, she heightened speculation when during a eulogy Sunday she urged mourners: "Don't let the fire go out."

The Republicans -- who have toned down their campaigning because of the crash -- criticized Wilson's offer.

"This is politicizing of a tragedy," said Ann Wagner, state GOP chairman. …

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