COLUMBIA — Rep. Dick Gephardt’s withdrawal from the presidential race means “Missouri is very much in play for the primaries,” Democratic Gov. Bob Holden said Tuesday.
Holden said he isn’t immediately switching to another candidate and might follow the lead of Gephardt, the St. Louis congressman who planned to formally end his second failed White House campaign a day after finishing a weak fourth in the Iowa caucuses.
A devoted Gephardt backer, Holden said in a telephone interview that he hopes the 14-term congressman will be considered as a vice presidential running mate by the eventual nominee.
“I think there is a place for Dick in national government, whether it be on the ticket or in some other capacity,” Holden said. “He brings a world of experience and compassion for helping those citizens that need our help.”
Holden said he and other Gephardt followers were waiting to see which of the other candidates Gephardt prefers, if any.
“I think that really is going to be determined by the course of action the congressman takes. I don’t know if he’s going to encourage people to vote for someone else or stay with him,” Holden said. “Dick has got to take his 30 years of public service and decide how he’s going to proceed.”
Gephardt has said he won’t run again for the House seat he first won in 1976. There has been talk that he might run against three-term Republican Sen. Kit Bond if he left the presidential race.
State Treasurer Nancy Farmer, a Gephardt backer, is the best-known Democratic Senate candidate. Holden said that he supports Farmer, and when asked whether Gephardt should consider the Senate race, Holden said: “I think Congressman Gephardt has got to look at what he wants to do with his future.”