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Byline: Larry Fish
ST. LOUIS, Mo. _ One of the closest races in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate is the tragedy-darkened campaign being waged across Missouri by a Republican incumbent forced to take on a dead opponent.
Everywhere, flags fly at half-staff _ a constant visual reminder of the Oct. 16 plane crash that killed Mel Carnahan, the popular two-term Democratic governor; his oldest son; and a campaign aide.
In the immediate aftermath, it appeared the race would go by default to the incumbent, conservative Sen. John Ashcroft. Carnahan's death came after the deadline for removing a name from the ballot, and Democrats had no obvious alternate candidate. The national party's hopes for taking five Senate seats, and a majority, from the Republicans dimmed.
But then, Carnahan's widow stepped forward. If the late governor wins _ and polls give him a small lead _ she has agreed to succeed him.
With less than a week to go before Election Day, the late governor is holding on to the small lead his candidacy had gained after his death. A …