To virtually no one's surprise, today MO Congressman Roy Blunt (MO-7) officially enters the race for Christopher "Kit" Bond's U.S. Senate seat.. Blunt will be the first GOP candidate to officially enter the race. On Feb. 2nd, MO Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced that she would seek the Democratic nomination for the seat, and as of right now it appears that she may not have a challenger, although rumors are still floating around that U. S. Rep. Lacy Clay (MO-1) may have a go at it.
Blunt will make his announcement at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis at 9:30 CST. A source in the GOP revealed to Redstate on Wednesday night that Blunt would be making appearances in eastern Missouri on Thursday, spend time in Springfield Thursday night, and travel through western Missouri on Friday, with a speaking appearance at Lincoln Days in Kansas City on Friday evening. And who will be introducing Rep. Blunt on Friday evening? None other than Senator Kit Bond. It is not known right now if Sen. Bond will be officially endorsing Rep. Blunt in his run for the Senate, but this appearance could be a good sign.
What of the rest of the potential GOP competition? The other key player that could pursue the nomination is former MO State Treasurer Sarah Steelman. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported today, Ms. Steelman is still "on the fence" about running for Bond's seat. It is believed in some circles that Steelman will try to do what is best for the GOP and will step aside to allow Blunt an unimpeded path to the nomination. This would avoid a contentious primary and could pave the way for stronger GOP support for her next run for office. Interestingly, Steelman is also scheduled to speak in Kansas City at the Lincoln Days event. The contents of her speech there may be telling. According to the aforementioned Post-Dispatch Political Fix story, some believe that Steelman could be a stronger candidate head-to-head against Robin Carnahan, but it would be very difficult for her to defeat Blunt in the primary.
Blunt will be a strong candidate for the Senate seat. He is a solid conservative (90+ ACU rating) with excellent social conservative credentials and is well-known for his ability to work with fellow Republicans AND Democrats in Congress...he is well-liked and "refused to be the guy who would say that the 'Democrats hate America' ". He has very strong name recognition in Missouri for several reasons - he is a multi-term representative, he served as the GOP Minority Whip until this year, and he is the father of former MO Governor Matt Blunt. That last item is one that some cite as a big weakness for Roy Blunt - Matt was not a popular governor in some circles and retired after one term, which did not set well with some in the GOP. However, Roy Blunt has 18+ months to cement his credentials with the Missouri electorate and differentiate himself from his son (with whom he did not always agree), and during that time Matt Blunt's true "legacy" will become clearer...and that may well be a good thing, depending on new Governor Jay Nixon's performance in office. Matt Blunt left office with the Missouri budget in relatively good condition, and it is Nixon's to preserve or destroy.
The Missouri Senate race for Bond's seat continues to shape up as an exciting contest and will undoubtedly be one of the most hotly-contested races in 2010. Any of the candidates currently considering a run, including Blunt, Steelman, or others previously mentioned could provide strong representation for Missourians on Capitol Hill.