SPRINGFIELD — Seven-term U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt has placed himself among Republicans weighing possible 2010 campaigns to succeed Sen. Kit Bond, who will retire after four terms.
Blunt, a former two-term secretary of state, was among the first Republicans mentioned as potential candidates after Bond, 69, stunned the Missouri GOP earlier this month by announcing he would not seek a fifth term.
"I wasn't considering the Senate at all as an option for me a month ago," Blunt said Friday, praising Bond as a "great Missouri senator ... who was always fighting for Missouri."
"I'd be really happy if he was running for the Senate again, but he's not. And I'm seriously looking at it. And that's really as far as I can go, because that's where I am. I'm seriously looking at it," Blunt said at a news conference dealing with the digital television transition at Ozarks Public Television on the campus of Missouri State University.
Because Democrats are within two seats of holding a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, "there's more focus on the fight in the Senate because the minority in the Senate has a bigger voice in the Senate than the minority in the House."
"That's a reason to go," Blunt said of running a campaign to keep Bond's seat in Republican hands.
Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, also is said to be considering a bid for the seat.
Other Republican politicians named as possible Senate contenders include former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, U.S. Rep. Sam Graves and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.
Talent and Steelman have both previously told the Springfield News-Leader that they're considering a bid for Bond's seat.
Former Gov. Matt Blunt already has ruled out running for the seat and has said his father would be the "leading candidate" for the job.
Many Missouri political observers believe if Roy Blunt were to run for the seat, he would clear the field of possible Republican candidates to avoid a contentious primary.
Roy Blunt, who recently stepped aside from a leadership post in the House, said leaving his current job of 12 years also is playing into his decision of whether to run for Senate.
Blunt, R-Springfield, added: "The 7th District in Missouri is the best congressional district in America. That may be a reason not to go. But I'm looking at it very seriously. I haven't set any deadlines for myself. I'd like to see the very best person go to the Senate from Missouri in 2010 and I'm trying to figure out if that should be me or can be somebody else."