JEFFERSON CITY — Former state treasurer Sarah Steelman said she will not run for public office next year, ending months of speculation that she was considering a bid for the U.S. Senate or House.
Steelman, a Republican from Rolla who once said she was leaning toward running for Senate, released a statement late Tuesday saying she struggled with her decision but ultimately chose not to run because she wants to raise her youngest son in Missouri. Her two oldest sons are in college.
"I love serving the public, I really do," Steelman told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "I'm still interested in doing that, but not this time around, because I'm more interested in making sure I don't miss a single minute or moment of my youngest son's life."
Steelman, 51, lost a Republican primary for governor last year and had said she was considering a Senate campaign after GOP Sen. Kit Bond announced in January that he would not seek re-election in 2010. In February, Steelman said she was leaning toward running. During the spring and early summer, Steelman said, she met with political consultants and fundraisers in Washington and Missouri who advised her she could mount a strong outsider's campaign for the Senate.
But she instead dialed back her efforts, signaling she was unlikely to run.
Her decision leaves a likely Republican primary between U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt and state Sen. Chuck Purgason, who already have declared their candidacies for Bond's seat. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is the only Democrat in the race.
As Steelman's prospects for a Senate bid faded, some Republicans speculated that she instead would run for the southwest Missouri congressional seat being vacated by Blunt. But Steelman said Wednesday that she will not run for the House next year. One of her political advisers, Jeff Laymen, said he has agreed to raise money for Springfield auctioneer Billy Long, one of several Republicans running for the congressional seat.
Steelman declined Wednesday to endorse any of the candidates in the House or Senate races.