Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder talks with a supporter at Lincoln Days

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder talks with a supporter at Lincoln Days

Missouri Republicans express optimism about their chances in November as a large and enthusiastic crowd mingles with candidates at the St. Charles Convention Center.

State party officials say more than 850 people have registered for the annual kick-off to the campaign season, a record. A rally for United States Senate candidate, southwest Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt, kicked off the festivities. Republicans heard from Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty during the banquet last year. Tonight, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who also served as U.S. Senator, governor and state attorney general, will speak to the crowd. Missouri Republicans honor Senator Bond, who is retiring from public office, tonight as well.

The only Republican to hold statewide office in Missouri government, Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, says the mood at Lincoln Days is as strong and optimistic as he has seen it in 30 years.

“And Republicans are ready to rumble in 2010 in Missouri,” Kinder tells the Missourinet.

Kinder says part of the reason for that is that Missouri was the only target swing-state that didn’t vote for President Obama in 2008. Republicans also held to their majorities in both the Missouri House and Senate. Republicans lost the governor’s office to Democrat Jay Nixon.

“Secondly, there’s an enormous reaction across the country that’s evident here in Missouri against the radical left liberal agenda of the Obama, Pelosi, Reid crowd in Washington, D.C.,” according to Kinder.

Republican victories in other states, especially Scott Brown’s upset in Massachusetts, has encouraged Republicans says Kinder. Kinder’s name isn’t on the ballot this year, but he plans to keep busy encouraging and campaigning for fellow Republicans.

“My role is chief encourager and cheerleader and campaigner,” Kinder says. “I’m going to be campaigning for Republican tickets in every corner of the state this year, especially for state House and state Senate candidates and candidate for Auditor and for Roy Blunt for the US Senate.”

Kinder declines to say whether he will be a candidate for governor in 2012, telling the Missourinet that decision will come after the campaigns this fall.

AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Lt. Gov. Kinder [1:40]