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Columbia Missourian

UPDATE: Blunt declares 'the fight is in the Senate'

By CHERYL WITTENAUER/The Associated Press
February 19, 2009 | 12:12 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — Republican U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt announced Thursday he is running the Senate in 2010, declaring he's the strongest in his party to win a seat that he believes is critical to regaining balance in that chamber.

"The fight is in the Senate," he said.

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He said the Democratic majority in the Senate eliminates debate on issues facing the nation, and that electing him would help move his party toward the 41 seats needed to challenge the Democrats.

"Americans and Missourians will not be served well by one-party rule," he said.

Blunt announced his candidacy at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, the first of a series of stops across Missouri that includes Jefferson City, Carthage and Cape Girardeau.

Making his announcement at the St. Louis school was a nod to his early life as a teacher. It also signaled that his campaign would have a stronger presence in the Democratic stronghold city, which typically is ignored by Republican candidates who favor the western suburbs of St. Louis and St. Charles counties.

"I'm going to be in St. Louis a lot," he said. He added he would "reverse the trend" of Republicans who avoid Missouri's urban base.

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.

Blunt, 59, has represented southwest Missouri in the House since 1997 and recently stepped aside as the House minority whip.

The 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.

Blunt is the father of Matt Blunt, who just finished a four-year term as Missouri's governor in January.

Both the Blunts and Carnahans have reputations as prolific fundraisers.

Blunt said he hoped the campaign between him and Carnahan wouldn't get personal because "Missourians are pretty tired of campaign bashing."

"Both of us bring different things to the campaign," he said. "Both of us were secretary of state re-elected by huge margins. I don't know all her stands, but I imagine we have pretty different views. I look forward to the debate."

Blunt said he didn't expect his son to campaign for him, as he said he didn't campaign for his son.

He said Matt Blunt had devoted most of his life to public service, and that it was time for him to devote more time to his family and personal goals.