Two are in. A third appears ready to jump in. More might be coming.
A dominant question on the minds of many Republicans attending Lincoln Days in Springfield this past weekend was: who would be the best candidate to unseat Democrat Claire McCaskill as United States Senator in the 2012 election?
Former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman announced early that she wants to be the Republican to take on McCaskill next year. She solicited both support and money during the Republican gathering. Steelman told the Missourinet this race will be an ideological one.
“Whether we want more government or whether we want more freedom,” Steelman said. “If you want more government, Claire McCaskill will be the one that you vote for. If you want more freedom and I’m running against her, then I’m going to be the one you’re going to vote for.”
Whether Steelman is the one running against McCaskill will likely have to be decided in a Republican primary. She announced first, but has already picked up a primary challenger.
Ed Martin is the former chief of staff for Governor Blunt. He lost his first bid for elective office last November in a close race against incumbent St. Louis-area Democratic Congressman Russ Carnahan. Martin told the Missourinet the United States Senate race boils down to a simple question.
“What’s the size and scope and cost of the federal government in relation to we the people?” Martin told us. “I just think Claire McCaskill is not answering that question. They’re growing government; it’s too expensive, too intrusive. So, I think we can do better.”
McCaskill defeated United States Senator Jim Talent in an extremely close race in 2006. McCaskill’s margin of victory over talent was less than 50,000 votes. Many speculated that we might see a rematch in 2012. Many Republicans wanted it, reasoning that Talent had the greatest name recognition of any Missouri Republican and was in the best position to win back his old seat. Talent, though, bowed out, saying he wouldn’t run.
That decision prompted former Missouri Republican Party Chairwoman Ann Wagner to consider entering the race. Wagner told the Missourinet there is a process to deciding such things and she hasn’t completed that process yet.
“You have to raise a lot of money and you have to see if you’ve got the pulse of the people and the fire in your belly to do it,” Wagner told the Missourinet in an interview at Lincoln Days.
Two members of Congress, Sam Graves from northwest Missouri and Jo Ann Emerson from southeast Missouri considered a bid, but have decided to stay put.