A plane crash that killed Missouri’s governor and altered the course of an election for the U.S. Senate happened 20 years ago Friday.
On the night of October 16th, 2000, Governor Mel Carnahan, his son Randy, and campaign advisor Chris Sifford, died when the twin-engine Cessna airplane piloted by Randy Carnahan went down in rainy and foggy conditions on a hillside about 35 miles south of St. Louis.
Sifford, who was from Puxico, Missouri, was a former reporter for KTTS News. He was 37 years old.
Carnahan, a Democrat, had been in a heated campaign against incumbent Republican John Ashcroft for the U.S. Senate.
Lieutenant Governor Roger Wilson served out the remainder of Carnahan’s term as governor, but Missouri election law would not allow Carnahan’s name to be removed from the November ballot.
The campaign chose the governor’s widow, Jean Carnahan, to unofficially become the new candidate.
Mel Carnahan won, with 50.5% of the popular vote. Ashcroft garnered 48.4% of the votes.
It’s the first time in American history a candidate had been elected to the U.S. Senate posthumously.
Jean Carnahan served for two years until a special election was held.
A month after the 2000 election, Ashcroft was chosen for the position of U.S. attorney general by President-elect George W. Bush, and was a key supporter of passage of the USA Patriot Act following the September 11th terror attacks on our nation.