2000 United States Senate election in Missouri

The 2000 United States Senate election in Missouri was held on November 7, 2000, to select the next U.S. Senator from Missouri. Incumbent Republican Senator John Ashcroft ran for reelection to a second term, but was defeated by Democratic Governor Mel Carnahan, despite Carnahan's death in a plane crash three weeks before election day. The new governor, Roger B. Wilson, then appointed Carnahan's widow Jean to the seat.

2000 United States Senate election in Missouri

← 1994 November 7, 2000 2002 (special) →
  Missouri Governor MelCarnahan.jpg.png John Ashcroft.jpg
Nominee Mel Carnahan John Ashcroft
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 1,191,812 1,142,852
Percentage 50.5% 48.4%

County results
Carnahan:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%
Ashcroft:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

U.S. senator before election

John Ashcroft

Elected U.S. Senator

Mel Carnahan


In 1998, freshman Senator John Ashcroft (R) briefly considered running for president. On January 5, 1999, he announced that he would not seek the presidency and would instead seek a second Senate term in the 2000 election.[1] Incumbent two-term Democratic Governor Mel Carnahan ran against Ashcroft.




  • Evaline Taylor


  • Grant Samuel Stauffer

Natural LawEdit

  • Charles Dockins


  • Hugh Foley



In the general election for the state's seat in the U.S. Senate, Ashcroft was facing then-Governor Mel Carnahan in a highly competitive race, despite the Senator having a larger budget than Carnahan, a war chest that included significant contributions from corporations such as Monsanto Company,[2] headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, which gave five times more to Ashcroft's campaign fund than to the fund of any other congressional hopeful at the time.[3]

Carnahan was killed in a plane crash three weeks before the November election date. Nonetheless, Carnahan's name remained on the ballot due to Missouri's election laws. Lieutenant Governor Roger B. Wilson became Governor upon Carnahan's death, to serve the remaining term of Carnahan's governorship. Ashcroft suspended all campaigning on the day of the plane crash in light of the tragedy and resumed it eight days before the election date.[4]

Election resultEdit

The voters of Missouri, by a margin of approximately fifty thousand votes,[5] chose for the U.S. Senate Mel Carnahan, their Governor who had died three weeks before the election. No one had ever posthumously won election to the Senate, though voters on at least three other occasions had until then chosen deceased candidates for the House of Representatives: Clement Woodnutt Miller (D) in California in 1962; Nick Begich (D) in Alaska, 1972; and Hale Boggs (D) in Louisiana, 1972.

Hence, John Ashcroft became the first ever U.S. Senate candidate, incumbent or otherwise, to be defeated by a dead person.[6]


Governor Roger B. Wilson appointed Carnahan's 66-year-old widow, Jean Carnahan, to a two-year term as Missouri Senator.[7] Ashcroft stated that he hoped the appointment would be "a matter of comfort for Mrs. Carnahan."

Asked by the media whether he would ever seek office again, Ashcroft responded, "The last thing I want to do is think about running for public office again."[4] A professor of political science at the University of Missouri commented that the incumbent Senator lost the election because his candidacy was "overwhelmed" by a campaign of "emotion and symbolism."[4]

In December 2000, John Ashcroft was chosen for the position of United States Attorney General by President-elect George W. Bush and his nomination was confirmed by the Senate[8] by a vote of 58 to 42. He served from February 2, 2001 until February 3, 2005.

In 2002, a special election was held in Missouri for the remainder of the six-year term of the state's Senator. Jean Carnahan ran, but was defeated by Republican Jim Talent with a margin of approximately twenty-two thousand votes and percentages of 49.8% vs 48.6%.[9]


2000 United States Senate election in Missouri[5]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mel Carnahan 1,191,812 50.5
Republican John Ashcroft (incumbent) 1,142,852 48.4
Green Evaline Taylor 10,612 0.5
Libertarian Grant Samuel Stauffer 10,198 0.4
Reform Hugh Foley 4,166 0.2
Natural Law Charles Dockins 1,933 0.1
Write-in 13 0.0
Total votes 2,361,586 100.0
Democratic gain from Republican

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Ashcroft decides not to jump into 2000 race", CNN, January 5, 1999
  2. ^ Schanbacher, William D. The Politics of Food: The Global Conflict between Food Security and Food Sovereignty, Praeger Security International; February 26, 2010; ISBN 978-0313363283; p.47
  3. ^ Harrison, Beth B. Shedding Light on Genetically Engineered Food: What You Don’t Know About the Food You’re Eating and What You Can Do to Protect Yourself, iUniverse, Inc., November 13, 2007, ISBN 978-0595451807
  4. ^ a b c "The 2000 elections: Missouri; Senator Refuses To Challenge Loss" by John W. Fountain, The New York Times, November 9, 2000
  5. ^ a b Statistics of the Presidential and Congressioanl Election of November 7, 2000
  6. ^ "Five people have won election to Congress, despite being dead" by Philip Bump, The Washington Post, October 1, 2014
  7. ^ Wayne, Stephen J. & Clyde Wilcox. The Election of the Century: The 2000 Election and What it Tells Us About American Politics in the New Millennium, Routledge, February 20, 2002, ISBN 978-0765607430; ch.10
  8. ^ Attorney General Nominee John Ashcroft's Senate Confirmation Hearing, January 16, 2001
  9. ^ 2002 Official Election Returns