Former Sen. Jean Carnahan (search) is now appearing in a television ad supporting Gov. Bob Holden (search), lending one of the most venerated names in state Democratic politics to his re-election effort.

Carnahan invokes the legacy of her late husband, Gov. Mel Carnahan (search), while declaring in the TV ad that Republican state lawmakers have tried to "dismantle the important gains for children and families" that her husband supported.

"But thankfully, Governor Holden has stood his ground. And despite great adversity, he's never given up or given in, and Missouri is a better place because of it," Carnahan says while looking directly in to the camera for the full 30-second ad. In the background is a white-framed window, providing a view of bushes and flowers.

Holden faces State Auditor Claire McCaskill in the Aug. 3 Democratic Party primary, and the winner is expected to face Republican Secretary of State Matt Blunt in the Nov. 2 general election. Last week, McCaskill and Holden each ran ads criticizing the other's commitment to education -- the first negative commercials of the campaign.

Holden's newest TV ad, which began airing Sunday, marks his first broadcast attempt to link himself to Mel Carnahan, a two-term governor killed in an airplane crash while campaigning for Senate in October 2000. Jean Carnahan was appointed to fill the Senate seat her husband won after his death, but she lost an election to keep it in 2002 to Republican Jim Talent.

While using Jean Carnahan's words instead of his own, Holden newest ad echoes his first ad, rolled out nearly six weeks ago, which cast the incumbent Democratic governor against the Republican-led Legislature -- not his gubernatorial challengers.

A McCaskill spokesman said Monday that Jean Carnahan is "a great Democrat" but disagreed with her positive characterization of Holden.

"Unfortunately, Bob Holden claims to have fought the good fight, but rarely with good results," said McCaskill spokesman Glenn Campbell, citing school funding cuts, college tuition increases and poor roads during Holden's tenure.

For much of Holden's term, Missouri -- like other states -- struggled with falling state revenues, which led to spending cuts. Republican lawmakers have generally rejected Holden's tax proposals, and voters defeated a transportation tax increase in 2002.