COLUMBIA — Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder is the first to jump into the gap left by Gov. Matt Blunt’s decision to not seek re-election this year.
Kinder made it official Thursday afternoon that he would run for governor this year.
“I’m in,” Kinder told The Associated Press. Asked if there was any scenario in which he would not run, Kinder replied: “No. Crossed the Rubicon.”
Citing experience in the Senate and as lieutenant governor, Kinder said he was confident he could be the governor Missourians want.
Kinder told the AP he barely slept Tuesday night after his announcement. On Wednesday, Kinder said he “[made] dozens of calls” seeking verbal and financial support for his campaign.
His involvement in state politics began in 1992 when he was elected state senator for the 27th District. He served three terms representing Cape Girardeau and surrounding counties.
In 2001, with a Republican majority, Kinder became President Pro Tem. He was elected lieutenant governor in 2004, winning in 91 of Missouri’s 114 counties.
Bruce Cornett, member of the Boone County Republican Central Committee, said he was anticipating Kinder’s formal announcement.
“It’s certainly no surprise,” Cornett said.
Senators who have worked with Kinder called him a good leader.
“(Kinder) has a lot of conviction. When he’s determined to accomplish something he shows great resolution and creativity to get it done,” said state Sen. John Loudon, R-St.Louis County.
“Kinder has always been interested in economic development, and he has always had a statewide perspective,” said state Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Dade, Jasper and Newton counties.
In an interview with the AP, Kinder highlighted his efforts with former Gov. Bob Holden to help revive the state’s economy.
“We steered the state through the worst economic downturn in 70 years,” Kinder said. “Those are credentials that are not just talk and not just politicking, but actually bearing the responsibility to govern. No one else in the race can say that.”
Other potential candidates for the gubernatorial race include House Speaker Rod Jetton, former Sen. Jim Talent, U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, state Senate Majority Leader Charlie Shields, U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway, and State Treasurer Sarah Steelman. None of them have officially announced their intentions.
Sean Madden contributed to this story.