“I think we might be at the field here because there’s just not a lot of room,” said the Republican consultant based in Missouri. “Martin is Evangelical and he’s a tea party type. And Wagner’s got the business community and Jane Cunningham would be the state Senator, the grass-roots type,” he said.
Carnahan is not expected to have much competition for the Democratic nomination if he does seek it in the 2nd district, where he would have to run well ahead of Obama next year in order to win.
The opposite would be true if he opts to run against Clay, a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, in the heavily Democratic 1st district. But he would find big challenges there, too.
The new 1st district’s population is 49.5 percent black and 3 percent Hispanic. More than 60 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in the district would be black, according to a demographic breakdown provided by a Democratic source. And based on his previous elections over the past decade, the source said, Clay usually gets about nine out of every 10 African-American votes and a bit less than
70 percent of the white vote.
But Democrats in Missouri say the chance of a Member-vs.-Member primary remains.
“When you’ve got two seated Members of Congress living in the same district, there’s the potential that there will be a primary,” said Brian Wahby, chairman of the St. Louis Democrats.
“Democrats would obviously prefer not to have an intraparty fight, but if that happens, hopefully we can make sure everybody keeps it civil,” Wahby said.
For his part, Clay was definitive: “I will run, and I will win decisively.”
Roy Temple, a longtime Democratic strategist in Missouri, said Carnahan is “a reasonably pragmatic guy so I think he will [run] where he thinks he’s got some balance between his best ability to contribute and a reasonable likelihood of success.”
Shira Toeplitz contributed to this report.