JEFFERSON CITY — Republican U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt was expected to announce Thursday that he's running for Senate in 2010.
Sources familiar with Blunt's intentions told The Associated Press that he would announce his candidacy at a series of stops across Missouri. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid upstaging Blunt's announcement.
Blunt was starting the day in St. Louis, followed by stops in Jefferson City, Carthage and Cape Girardeau.
Republican Sen. Kit Bond announced in January that he would not seek election to a fifth term. So far, Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is the only other candidate to enter the race.
But former Republican Treasurer Sarah Steelman said Thursday that she still is considering whether to enter the race as well.
Blunt, 59, has represented southwest Missouri in the House since 1997 and recently stepped aside as the House minority whip. He is a former high school teacher who served as Greene County clerk from 1973 to 1985. He was elected Missouri secretary of state in 1984 at age 34 and served two terms before losing a bid for governor in a contentious 1992 Republican primary. He then spent several years as president of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar before running for Congress.
His oldest son, Matt Blunt, just ended a four-year term as governor in January.
The Missouri Senate race could become a showdown between two of Missouri's most prominent political families.
Carnahan is the daughter of former Gov. Mel Carnahan, who was killed in an October 2000 plane crash while campaigning for the Senate. He won anyway and his widow, Jean Carnahan, was appointed to the Senate seat. Robin Carnahan also is the sister of U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan.
Both the Blunts and Carnahans have reputations as prolific fundraisers.
Republican and Democratic leaders both would like to avoid costly primaries for the open Senate seat from Missouri, which is expected to be among the most hotly contested nationally as Democrats try to gain a filibuster-proof majority.
Steelman tapped into anti-Washington sentiment last year in an unsuccessful Republican primary campaign for governor. She indicated she could use the same theme if she challenges Blunt in a senatorial primary.
"I am continuing to explore a run for U.S. Senate because hardworking men and women who love this country are looking for a better way," Steelman said in a written statement. "Missourians know we have to hold people accountable for their bad decisions: the bailouts, the earmarks, the self-dealing and the cozy relationships between congressmen and lobbyists.
"These actions have undermined the trust in our institutions, devastated the American economy, and have shown disrespect for the hardworking people of this state and country," Steelman said.
Blunt scheduled a news conference for 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.
State Rep. Ward Franz, chairman of the Missouri House Republican Caucus, said Blunt was to speak to Republican state lawmakers later Thursday morning. Blunt then was to appear at a 12:30 p.m. news conference at the state Capitol with House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin.
Bond had announced his Senate retirement at the state Capitol, first in a speech to the House chamber, then in a news conference in the same House lounge where Blunt plans to speak.