Congressman Sam Graves

Northwest Missouri Congressman Sam Graves says he’s happy to be just that: the congressman from northwest Missouri.

Graves, a Republican from Tarkio, has decided against entering the Republican primary for United States Senate, though he tells us he weighed the options for some time before deciding against a run for higher office.

“It was a real tough decision. In fact, it was…how I describe it…an excruciating decision, but I just felt like I could have more impact as one of 19 chairman in the House than I could as a freshman senator,” Graves tells the Missourinet. “So, I want to continue to do the work that I started. I’m very proud of the fact that I’m chairman of the Small Business Committee. In fact, I’m the only chairman that has ever come out of the 6th District of Missouri. And, I want to continue to do the work that I set out to do.”

After Republicans took control of the United States House in Washington in November, House Speaker John Boehner named Graves chairman of the House Small Business Committee. Graves had been the ranking Republican. Graves served as a state senator prior to first winning election to the US House in 2000.

Graves had expressed interest in running against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill, but decided to stay out of the Republican primary.

“When you’re running against an incumbent, a strong incumbent, it’s always tough,” according to Graves. “Now, I think that Senator McCaskill has made some very poor votes and has really set herself up for a tough race of her own. But regardless, everything is uncertain and the climate could be completely different two years from now than it is today.”

Graves expects a “spirited” Republican primary. He says he hopes the Republican who emerges from the primary next year will be a budget-hawk who is serious about getting the nation out of debt. Graves expects the importance of this race to extend beyond Missouri.

“It will probably be the top race in the nation this coming election cycle,” says Graves. “You’re going to see a lot of money poured into this race. It’s going to come from all over the nation.”

Graves says he’s satisfied to watch the race unfold from the sidelines as he runs his own race for re-election.

AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews NW Missouri Congressman Sam Graves [8:30 MP3]