NOVEMBER 3, 2004 - Posted at 7:44 CST
JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Republican Secretary of State Matt Blunt won Missouri's hard-fought gubernatorial race early today.
Blunt rode an overwhelming wave of rural support to defeat Democratic State Auditor Claire McCaskill, who had forced open the governor's office by ousting incumbent Bob Holden in the primary.
According to unofficial returns, Blunt led McCaskill by about three percentage points with all statewide precints reporting results. Some votes from the Democratic stronghold of St. Louis are still out. Those figure to narrow Blunt's victory margin.
Blunt is the son of third-ranking GOP Representative Roy Blunt. He's 34 and becomes the state's second-youngest governor and the first Republican chief executive since John Ashcroft in 1985-1993.