State highway commissioners say they have the search for a new state transportation director down to a “handful” of candidates. More than nine months after former director Henry Hungerbeeler tendered his resignation, Highway Commissioner Jim Anderson, who chairs the group’s search for a new state transportation director, promises a new director by next month. Anderson acknowledges that Matt Blunt and Claire McCaskill, both running for governor, have indicated they want a Secretary of Transportation reporting directly to the governor, instead of the current system of the director reporting to the independent highway commission. But Anderson does not think whoever comes aboard will be in a short-lived position. Anderson says the candidates involved are acutely aware of the upheaval in the transportation department, but that has not been a “deal breaker” in this case.