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Martin has yet to concede, while GOP city elections director defends balloting

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 6, 2010 - Ed Martin, the Republican nominee for the 3rd District congressional seat, has a new spokeswoman as he continues to mull his options regarding his apparent loss Tuesday to Democratic incumbent Russ Carnahan. Martin has yet to concede.

New spokeswoman Brenda Madden said that Martin is out of town for the weekend. "He's still working on processing the problems with (Secretary of State) Robin Carnahan's database being down on Election Day and he's continuing to work with the local boards," Madden said in an email Friday afternoon.

One of his biggest backers, the St. Louis Tea Party, may be moving on. While continuing to support Martin, executive director Ben Evans said Friday that there appears to be "no smoking gun" that the group can immediately target as a culprit in Martin's narrow loss to Russ Carnahan.

Tea Party spokeswoman Jen Ennenbach did add later, "We do believe this election was stolen."

Meanwhile, some political activists are wondering if Martin also is considering his options for 2012.

On Oct. 28, 2008, the same day that Martin purchased the domain rights to "edmartinforcongress.com," which became the website for his 3rd District campaign, an unidentified purchaser (via domainsbyproxy.com) also snagged the rights to "edmartinforgovernor.com" and "edmartinforsenate.com."

All expire on the same day in 2011 -- which means that Martin may have a choice on which site to renew before the 2012 election.

(As we reported earlier:)

St. Louis Republican elections director Scott Leiendecker said Thursday that there were "no shenanigans whatsoever'' in Tuesday's balloting and vote-counting in St. Louis, and that critics contending otherwise need to come forward with any proof.

Leiendecker was directing his comments at Martin, his former boss.

The latest vote tallies have Martin trailing Democratic incumbent Russ Carnahan by just over 4,400 votes out of more than 200,000 cast. Although Martin has yet to concede, some state GOP officials and activists have been encouraging him for days to do so.

Among other things, Martin has alleged irregularities in the city's votes and in the hiring of a security firm at the city Election Board headquarters to help out on Election Day. Martin particularly has raised questions about the final bloc of city votes that went heavily for Carnahan.

On Wednesday, a group of Martin allies picketed outside the downtown Election Board headquarters, shouting that vote fraud had been committed. (Click hereto read and see the conservative video of the protest, and here to viewthe progressive perception of the pickets.)

Leiendecker noted that the city always votes heavily Democratic, a fact that Martin -- former chairman of the St. Louis Election Board -- would be aware.

"I feel completely confident in the results. I feel completely confident in the Election Board," Leiendecker said, noting that he and other members of the bipartisan staff were closely monitoring the voting, the ballot collection and counting.

While emphasizing his personal fondness for Martin, Leiendecker said he was concerned that the city board's employees were being unfairly maligned.

"This city Election Board, over the past four years, has indicted and convicted at least 13 individuals for vote fraud and fraudulent voter registrations,'' Leiendecker said. "We take it extremely seriously."

Leiendecker noted that Martin can legally challenge the election results after the votes have been certified, which must be done by Nov. 16.

Martin and his campaign have declined to respond to requests for comment since Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Carnahan said in a statement Thursday, "It was a long and spirited campaign, and now Russ Carnahan is keeping his focus exactly where it should be -- working for the people of this district."

Republican consultant John Hancock has talked to Martin. While not divulging their conversation, Hancock said that "any time there's a possibility of election tampering, fraud or deficiencies, they ought to be thoroughly investigated."

Hancock added that he was proud of Martin's enthusiastic effort. "Sometimes there's a political victory in defeat," Hancock said. "He can claim that now."

Hancock's comments indicated he wasn't challenging the outcome of the Carnahan-Martin contest, a view that appears to be held by some other prominent Republicans. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder noted Wednesday that Carnahan's victory was large enough to prevent an automatic recount.

Kinder also tied Martin's defeat to another shortcoming -- his failure to carry the St. Louis County portion of the 3rd District, a region that often leans Republican. On Tuesday, several south county legislative seats once held by Democrats went to Republicans.

State Republican Party spokesman Lloyd Smith said in a statement late Thursday, "The Missouri Republican Party is working with the Ed Martin campaign to review the outcome of Tuesday's election. We will continue to work with the campaign to determine what action, if any, needs to be taken to ensure that the election was fair and accurate."

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.