Hulshof expected to announce bid for governor today

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof is expected to announce today that he will run for governor, The Associated Press has learned.

Hulshof, a native of Bertrand, Mo., would become the third Republican to enter the race after GOP Gov. Matt Blunt's surprise announcement last week that he will not seek a second term in the November elections.

Two Republican sources familiar with Hulshof's plans confirmed that Hulshof is expected announce his gubernatorial candidacy. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about Hulshof's intentions.

Republican consultant John Hancock, who is working for Hulshof's campaign, said the congressman planned to "make a major announcement [today] about the future of Missouri," but Hancock declined to elaborate.

Hulshof spokesman Scott Baker declined to comment on the announcement. Baker said Hulshof was flying back to Washington from Missouri on Monday night and was unable to attend the president's State of the Union speech.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and Treasurer Sarah Steelman already have jumped into the suddenly wide open Republican primary for governor. Attorney General Jay Nixon so far is the only Democrat in the race, though a spokesman for Secretary of State Robin Carnahan has said she is thinking about it.

None of those candidates can run for governor and simultaneously seek re-election to their current offices this year. That means Republicans and Democrats alike will be scrambling to compete for several suddenly open statewide offices and for Hulshof's 9th Congressional District seat. Missouri's official candidacy filing period runs from late February to late March.

Hulshof, 49, of Columbia, had seriously considered running for governor in 2004 but deferred to Blunt. A former prosecutor, Hulshof was first elected to the House in 1996. Last year, he was a leading candidate to become president of the University of Missouri, a post he then called "one of the very few jobs for which I would consider leaving Congress." But university curators ultimately passed over Hulshof.

House Speaker Rod Jetton, who also has considered running for governor, told the AP on Monday that he would announce his own decision after Hulshof makes his formal announcement.

Jetton, R-Marble Hill, said last week that he has support from fellow House Republicans, likely donors and local Republican leaders, but his wife was still uncertain. He said that over the weekend she told him she would be supportive if he made a bid for governor. But Jetton also has said he would not get in the race if Hulshof is running.

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., planned to hold a second conference call today with the state's congressional delegation, statewide officeholders and other party leaders to gauge the status of the race.

In an interview Monday, Bond denied reports that he favors Hulshof or any other candidate in the race.

"We're going to conduct any primary on an open and fair basis, and I will be watching to make sure we don't get off the track and engage in any Bill Clinton-type campaigning," Bond said. "I'm certainly not choosing anybody."

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