JEFFERSON CITY — Republican state Sen. Chuck Purgason declared his candidacy Thursday for the seat being vacated by longtime U.S. Sen. Kit Bond and pledged to fight against spending earmarks and budget deficits.
Purgason's announcement sets up a potential August 2010 GOP primary against U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, who already has amassed almost $1.8 million and the endorsements of numerous Republican officials. The lone Democratic candidate is Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.
Bond announced in January that he would not seek a fifth Senate term.
Purgason, 49, is a quail and pheasant farmer who runs a hunting preserve at his rural Howell County home in southern Missouri. Among the most fiscally conservative state legislators, Purgason has used his chairmanship of the Senate Government Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee to hold up bills that he believes are too costly.
While announcing his candidacy at a cafe in West Plains, Purgason pledged never to vote for an unbalanced budget or spending earmarks — principles he said some Republicans had abandoned.
"If a family's trying to balance their budget, you can't give your kids credit cards and expect that family's budget to stay in shape," Purgason said in an interview.
Purgason said he opposed the federal bailout of troubled banking institutions and the $787 billion federal stimulus act and would not accept contributions from political action committees funded by entities that received government bailout money.
He also pledged that no family members would be lobbyists.
Blunt is married to lobbyist Abigail Perlman, who consequently does not lobby House members, and his son Andy Blunt also is a lobbyist. Carnahan's siblings Russ and Tom Carnahan were registered lobbyists several years ago though not currently.
Blunt spokesman Rich Chrismer noted 19 of Purgason's 22 colleagues in the state Senate already have endorsed Blunt.
"Our campaign is going to keep the focus on Robin Carnahan and her liberal positions in support of out-of-control taxing, out-of-control spending and out-of-control borrowing," Chrismer said.
Carnahan spokesman Tony Wyche said: "Robin's looking forward to debating the important issues to the families of Missouri with whomever the Republicans nominate."