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Columbia Missourian

Steelman announces candidacy for governor

By ANNE HAUSER
January 26, 2008 | 7:34 p.m. CST
Missouri State Treasurer Sarah Steelman declared her intention to run as a Republican candidate for governor of Missouri at her brother's home in Springfield on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008. The unexpected announcement by Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican, that he will not seek re-election has opened up the contest.

COLUMBIA — Missouri State Treasurer Sarah Steelman formally announced her candidacy for governor Saturday.

Steelman said that, after serious consideration, she feels she can best serve the people of Missouri through the office of governor. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder joined the race for the Republican nomination earlier this week and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan confirmed Friday that she is considering running. Former Republican Sen. Jim Talent declared Friday that he definitely will not run for governor.

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Steelman said her goals as governor would include making Missouri a better place to live and work, making higher education and health insurance more affordable to Missourians and improving the state’s economy.

Paul Sloca, director of communications for the Missouri Republican State Committee, said he sees Steelman’s announcement as an opportunity to build on the Republican successes of Blunt.

“Sarah is very qualified and she’s a got a lot of experience,” Sloca said. “She will be a great addition to an exceptional field of Republican candidates.”

Only one Democrat has declared his candidacy for governor so far, Attorney General Jay Nixon. Nixon released a statement on Wednesday that said no matter who the Republicans nominate, Missourians will recognize that positive change will only occur if they elect a candidate with fundamentally different priorities.

Phyllis Fugit, chair of the Boone County Democratic party, said that even though the Republican field is wide-open, she’s not concerned about a Democrat’s chances at being elected.

“Nixon has been campaigning for a year and a half, he has more name recognition than the Republicans and he’s more qualified,” Fugit said. “The Republicans are going to have a big primary, but we’re not thinking much about it. We are working to support all Democratic candidates equally.”

Steelman said her experience as a two-term state senator and state treasurer will help her build on Blunt’s work. From 1998 to 2002, Steelman served as a state senator from the 16th Senatorial District. She has long described herself as a politician who puts people first and is turning her treasurer campaign slogan of “Power to the People” into a theme for her race for governor.

“It’s a different kind of politics than what has become the norm today,” Steelman said Saturday morning. “It’s a politics that put people first” and doesn’t seek to simply hold an office.

As the first Republican woman to be elected to the office of Missouri State Treasurer, Steelman said she hopes her experience will help her become the first female governor of Missouri. According to her official Web site, Steelman has doubled the amount of tax dollars invested in the state during her first term as state senator and she currently oversees $20 billion in annual state revenue and the investment of the state’s $4 billion portfolio.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.