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Steelman out of the race for the MO Senate seat?

The Hill is reporting tonight that it is looking more and more like Sarah Steelman may decide to forego a challenge to MO Rep. Roy Blunt in the primary for Kit Bond’s Senate seat.  Instead she may try to run for Blunt’s current 7th District House seat in Missouri.

Former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman appears increasingly less likely to run against Blunt, and she acknowledged Monday that she is looking at a possible campaign for Blunt’s open House seat as an alternative.

Steelman said shortly after Sen. Kit Bond’s (R-Mo.) retirement announcement in January that she was leaning toward entering the Senate race, and for a while, it was a foregone conclusion.

But after unleashing a string of Blunt criticisms and opening an exploratory committee in April, she has grown quieter and begun evaluating other options.

She was still largely quiet last week when potential Blunt challenger Tom Schweich and the man who had been promoting him, former Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.), both changed course and announced their support for Blunt.

Though rarely afraid of ruffling feathers in the GOP establishment — including in a pitched gubernatorial primary with former Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) in 2008 — Steelman told The Hill on Monday that she is worried about hurting the GOP.

Steelman’s advisor offered her some sage advice:

“She was looking at it as: Two men against a woman, she’s got a better shot at winning the race,” the consultant said. “Now it’s her against Blunt, and it’s a Hulshof thing all over again. She would be heavily outspent and she starts down very far in terms of name ID.”

The name ID thing is a big deal – she’s not really a household name around MO, despite the rumblings about her possible Senate run.

Last week I posted a RedHot that indicated that Thomas Schweich has also decided not to pursue the Bond seat, even though he really had never overtly stated an intent to run against Blunt.  Not only has Schweich endorsed Blunt, but so has his “mentor”, former MO Senator John Danforth.

This is a pretty big deal.  While someone else could come forward as a challenger to Blunt, it would appear on the surface that this clears the deck for Blunt to place all of his energy (and money) into opposing Robin Carnahan, currently the only Democrat in the running for Bond’s seat.

Personally, I hope she does run for Blunt’s House seat.  I think she has a very good chance to win there, and if she does, she is then in a good position to challenge the junior MO Senator Claire McCaskill for her seat in 2012.  By then Steelman would have had ample opportunity to make her mark in national politics, learn the DC ropes (realizing, of course, that can bring negatives…), and establish her conservative creds on the national level.

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