BRANSON — Congressman Kenny Hulshof won the endorsement Saturday of Sen. Kit Bond in Missouri’s Republican gubernatorial primary — a prize he hopes could churn up more money and votes.
Bond, the state’s most senior Republican official, announced his endorsement at the Missouri Republican State Convention, triggering a standing ovation from some while others remained in their seats.
Hulshof is running against State Treasurer Sarah Steelman in the Aug. 5 primary, with the winner expected to face Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon in the November general election.
Bond praised Hulshof as a bipartisan problem solver.
“In this era of change, we need a governor with no ax to grind but instead a governor with a fresh, aboveboard, inclusive, and hopeful perspective,” Bond said. “We need a governor who cares deeply about issues but does not believe the pursuit of an agenda should come at the expense of integrity.”
“Today I am endorsing my good friend and Congressman Kenny Hulshof for governor,” Bond said.
Hulshof said he was “humbled and elated” by Bond’s endorsement, which he said could carry a lot of sway with undecided Republican primary voters while also opening the checkbook of some of Bond’s traditional donors.
“Endorsements don’t vote, obviously, but what it does is help set the state, help to introduce me” to voters, Hulshof said.
Steelman downplayed the importance of Bond’s endorsement — or those of any politician.
“I’m looking for the endorsement of people,” Steelman said. “If this is a race between the people and politicians, I choose the people.”
Earlier this week, Hulshof also drew support from some of Gov. Matt Blunt’s closest backers. The governor’s brother, Andy Blunt, helped host a fundraiser for Hulshof that also included Alison Craighead, the wife of the executive director for the Missouri Republican Party.
The governor refrained Saturday from endorsing either Hulshof or Steelman.
Instead, Blunt focused his attention on Nixon, criticizing him as a backer of big government and abortion rights, among other things.
Blunt implied either Republican was a better alternative than Nixon.
“There is a real difference in this election, a real difference on taxes, a real difference on the role of government in our daily lives and a real difference on the values that made America great,” he said.