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Illegal Immigration Debate Heats Up Heartland Primary

It was initially the immigration debate that turned this Missouri race into a dogfight for this central Missouri U.S. House seat. The 25-county district stretches from northeast Missouri to the Interstate 70 corridor between St. Charles and Columbia. The district includes Columbia, Hannibal, Kirksville, Hermann, Franklin County, and a part of the Lake of the Ozarks.

In response to the amnesty accusations, Luetkemeyer accused Onder of conducting push polls, although the Onder campaign has denied it. Then this week, according to the Politics Blog, Onder's campaign sent out a release accusing Luetkemeyer of push-polling -- the exact event that essentially started the pair's air war. Luetkemeyer's spokesman said such a charge is "not accurate." This Republican primary race is heating up with both sides trading charges of influence peddling.

Dr. Bob Onder received good news this month when the conservative Club for Growth announced a major ad buy in MO-09, that is running for a minimum of 10 days, in support of the representative. The group has historically poured cash into competitive GOP primary campaigns, often to sideline Republicans whom it views as too moderate. This was a big break for Onder. The video they've been airing against Rep. Luetkemeyer may be viewed here.

In response, Luetkemeyer fired back with his own TV ad chastising Onder and his "East Coast supporters" for their "false attack ads."

The war of words continues in this bellwether state as each of these prominent candidates pushes his conservative credentials in the final days of the primary campaign. And, in an interesting twist for this Midwestern state, it was the immigration debate and border security that turned the debate into a battle.

Missouri's primary election is scheduled for August 5.