Emerson passes on running for Kit Bond's Senate seat

Saturday, January 10, 2009

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson took herself out of consideration for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Kit Bond.

In an announcement issued from her Washington, D.C., office Friday morning, Emerson's spokesman Jeffrey Connor said she is happy in her current position.

"Jo Ann is not going to run for senate in 2010," Connor said. "She has a full plate in the House and is truly excited about her new responsibilities as a ranking member."

But another potential Senate contender from Southeast Missouri, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, isn't tipping his hand so soon. Kinder isn't in and he isn't out, spokesman Gary McElyea said Friday. "He feels right now the time is to look back on Sen. Bond's career achievements, from transportation to homeland security. Right now he is not going to join a group of quite a few people who have begun jockeying for position and he is not joining those criticizing Sen Bond's record."

Emerson, a member of Congress since 1996, was named the ranking minority member of the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Appropriations. The job gives Emerson added clout on spending and oversight issues involving the U.S. Treasury, the White House, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other independent federal agencies.

Kinder, lieutenant governor since 2005, was the only Republican to win statewide in 2008. First elected to the state Senate in 1992, Kinder was briefly a candidate for governor in 2008 following Matt Blunt's announcement he would not run. Kinder reconsidered his decision after state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and then-U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof joined the race.

Bond, who is serving his fourth term, made the surprise announcement about his retirement during a speech Thursday to the Missouri House of Representatives. The veteran Republican politician, who first won statewide office in 1970 and was the youngest-ever governor when he won the job in 1972, said he did not want to be the oldest-ever U.S. senator from Missouri.

Emerson's announcement takes her out of what could be a crowded Republican field. Reports from around the state and from national media indicate that U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt of Springfield and former U.S. senator Jim Talent are considering the race. Steelman, who lost the GOP primary for governor, has also expressed an interest in the contest. Hulshof, who lost the 2008 race for governor to Jay Nixon, has been silent on his plans.

A decision now for a race that begins in earnest more than a year from now would be premature, McElyea said. "He doesn't think it is the right time to act hastily in a decision like this," he said. "The media right now may think that everybody needs to jump on the wagon, but the lieutenant governor doesn't."

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is being touted by many Democrats as their party's candidate for Bond's now open seat.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

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