JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- State Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer made his candidacy for state treasurer official Monday while criticizing the office for investing most of Missouri's money out of state.
Luetkemeyer kicked off his campaign at the state Capitol by passing out oversized play money with his portrait in the middle alongside a pledge to invest more money in Missouri.
"My plan is quite simple: When I'm state treasurer, I will take back $1 billion of your tax dollars, and instead of investing it in Wall Street in New York I will invest it in Main Street here in Missouri," said Luetkemeyer, a Republican from the rural mid-Missouri town of St. Elizabeth.
State Treasurer Nancy Farmer is not seeking re-election because she is instead challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Kit Bond in the 2004 elections.
Farmer's chief of staff, Chuck Miller, said that of Missouri's $2.7 billion to $2.8 billion investment portfolio, about $325 million is in Missouri banks and the rest is in such things as commercial paper and U.S. agency securities.
Luetkemeyer said that instead of investing nearly 90 percent of the state's money elsewhere, he would aim to keep at least half of it in Missouri, which he said would help stimulate the economy and create jobs.
Miller said that's more easily said than done. First, there currently is no demand among Missouri banks for any more state deposits. Plus, Miller said, it's hard to categorize when other types of investments have Missouri connections.
"The treasurer's office is very conscientious about investing in Missouri," Miller said.
Luetkemeyer, a bank loan officer and owner of an insurance agency, is one of several candidates for what's shaping up to be a crowded ballot.
Other Republican state treasurer candidates include state Sen. Anita Yeckel of St. Louis, state Rep. Brad Roark of Springfield and St. Louis businessman Tom Klein.
Some Democratic Party leaders had been banking on state utility regulator Kelvin Simmons as their candidate. But Simmons announced two weeks ago that he would not run. Since then, House Minority Floor Leader Mark Abel of Festus has announced his candidacy and others have said they are considering it. Arnold Mayor Mark Powell, who is an investment broker, previously had announced he is running for treasurer as a Democrat.
Campaign finance reports due Wednesday at the Missouri Ethics Commission should indicate on who has the early fund-raising advantage.
Yeckel is the only treasurer's candidate to file a report so far. She reported raising $19,910 during the past three months with $33,052 on hand at the end of September.