JEFFERSON CITY — An attorney fired from former Gov. Matt Blunt's office said Monday that he is using $100,000 from a state legal settlement to help finance a campaign for Congress.
Scott Eckersley is running as a Democrat for the southwest Missouri seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, the father of the former governor.
The state paid Eckersley and his attorneys $500,000 last year to settle a lawsuit claiming he was wrongly fired and defamed in September 2007 after raising questions about e-mail deletions in the governor's office. Matt Blunt contends Eckersley was fired for legitimate reasons. The settlement included no admission of wrongdoing by any parties.
Eckersley filed to run for Missouri's 7th Congressional District on March 30 — the deadline for candidates to enter the Aug. 3 primaries. But he said at the time that he merely was keeping open the option of running and had not raised any money.
Eckersley was holding a formal campaign kickoff Monday in Springfield. He said he hoped his financial contribution would demonstrate his seriousness and attract other donations. The $100,000 amounts to more than one-third of the money Eckersley received from the settlement, after paying his attorneys.
Although Eckersley's much-publicized lawsuit increased his name recognition, he is running in a district that historically has elected Republicans. Roy Blunt, who has held the seat for 14 years, is not seeking re-election because he is instead running for U.S. Senate.
"Everyone has tried to dissuade me, telling me that voters are party-line voters down here," Eckersley said Monday in a telephone interview.
"I just think we've got a message that sticks," Eckersley added. "The tone and the theme of these elections really has been tailor made for me. While all of these guys are talking about how they are going to be able to stand up to the establishment, I've done it."
Besides Eckersley, Missouri's 7th District race includes eight Republicans, a Libertarian and one other Democrat, Tim Davis.
Davis is a Branson attorney and economist who has put $5,600 of his own money into the race, according to a federal campaign finance report filed in April. Davis said Monday that he does not plan to spend any more of his own money running for Congress.
Davis is campaigning on a platform of expanding the economy by cutting corporate taxes and allowing more immigrants into the U.S. on work visas. He also proposes to decrease the Social Security debt by delaying eligibility by a month and changing the way its inflationary increases are calculated, among other things.
Eckersley said he is gearing his campaign toward the general election. He is one of two people involved in the e-mail controversy running for Congress this year.
Matt Blunt's former Chief of Staff Ed Martin, who fired Eckersley, is one of three Republicans seeking to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan in a St. Louis area race. Martin reported raising more than $582,000 as of his April finance report. He has been trying to appeal to tea-party activists.