JEFFERSON CITY— U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer said Monday that he will consider a 2016 campaign for Missouri governor after his re-election bid this year, making him the fourth Republican to acknowledge an interest in the race.
Luetkemeyer, who represents Missouri's 3rd Congressional District, said he has been encouraged by Republican Party members, donors and friends to consider running for governor. But he first must stand for re-election this year, facing a challenge from three Republicans, two Democrats and a Libertarian.
"After this election, we'll sit down and see if there is something there" for a gubernatorial campaign, Luetkemeyer said.
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is barred by term limits from seeking re-election, but others already are positioning to succeed him.
Former U.S. Attorney and House Speaker Catherine Hanaway is the only Republican to have declared her candidacy. But Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich also may enter the governor's race after his re-election contest this year. Republican businessman John Brunner, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2012, has said he also will consider a gubernatorial bid.
Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster has been planning a gubernatorial campaign since last year.
Luetkemeyer first won election to Congress in 2008 in what then was an open seat in Missouri's 9th Congressional District. Missouri lost a congressional seat because its population growth failed to keep pace with that of the nation's in the 2010 census. The 9th District was eliminated during redistricting, and Luetkemeyer's residence in the Lake of the Ozarks area was placed into a redrawn 3rd District that stretches eastward to the outer St. Louis suburbs.
Luetkemeyer served from 1999 to 2005 in the Missouri House. He finished second in a seven-way Republican primary for state treasurer in 2004 and then served as Missouri tourism director from 2006-2008 under Republican Gov. Matt Blunt. Luetkemeyer won a five-way Republican primary for Congress in 2008 before prevailing in a close general election.
While assessing his own interest in governor, Luetkemeyer said he also will consider the other candidates in the race.
"I think the field will get larger instead of smaller," he said. But he also acknowledged: "We as a party suffer when we have primaries at the state level."