Skelton’s challenger faces tough battle

Many national pundits predict that the Democrats will pick up seats in the House and Senate a week from today. Others say some Democrats across the country are skating on thin ice with voters, but that is not the case in Missouri’s 4th Congressional District.
Congressman Ike Skelton was first elected to office in 1976 and has been in Washington since. Republican Challenger Jeff Parnell faces a tough uphill battle to unseat the more-than-three-decade incumbent. The theme for the Democrat’s national campaign has been for change, an attribute that might not fit well with some voters and specifically Parnell.
At a campaign stop in Warrensburg over the weekend, Parnell spoke to voters about how out of touch Skelton is with the wishes of his constituents.
“He voted not once but twice for the billionaires’ bailout despite overwhelming opposition from constituents,” Parnell said in his speech that was released by his campaign. “When you’ve been in Congress for 32 years, you no longer owe the people, just billionaire lobbyists and special interests. I will only be indebted to the people of this district.”
Parnell hammered Skelton about losing endorsements and campaigning for Barack Obama recently. Parnell said in a statement that if voters are supporting the McCain/Palin ticket, they should be supporting him as well.
But unseating Skelton is a task. Skelton’s closest election in the last 12 years came in 1996 when he took 63.8 percent of the vote compared to his Republican challenger’s total of 33.9 percent. Over the last six elections Skelton has enjoyed a 67.2 percent rate of voters.
Skelton will be vying for the 4th District seat for the 17th time. Parnell and other challengers are not alone. Unseating Democratic incumbent William Clay Lacy and Republican incumbents Jo Ann Emerson and Roy Blunt from Missouri, have been tall tasks in recent elections. All four are expected to win their races.
Photo: Parnell

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