Rep. Blunt to seek party post, re-election

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt will campaign for two positions this year -- re-election to his southwest Missouri seat and the chance to become the third-ranking Republican in the House.

Blunt filed candidacy papers Monday for a fourth term from Missouri's 7th Congressional District. If he wins and Republicans retain control of the chamber, Blunt also stands to become the majority whip.

The whip is the party's chief vote-counter and arm-twister and ranks just behind the speaker and the majority leader. Blunt already is the deputy whip and is unopposed to succeed whip Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, who is expected to move up to majority leader.

Because of his leadership role, Blunt said he would have a busy schedule visiting his district and others. He expects some of the hottest congressional races to occur in Florida, Georgia and Michigan.

"I'm going to be working to see that we're still in the majority on our side, so that I get to be the majority whip," Blunt said after filing for re-election.

Blunt said Republicans could expand their 11-seat House majority over Democrats. But barely 10 percent of the 435 House seats are expected to be closely contested, he said. His own seat is generally considered safe.

Blunt, 52, of Strafford, Mo., has drawn no Republican opponents for the Aug. 6 primary election. Democrat Ron Lapham of Bolivar, Mo., and Libertarian Doug Burlison of Springfield, Mo., are the only candidates from their parties.

Candidacy filing continues through March 26.

Blunt was the last of Missouri's incumbent Congressional members to file for re-election.

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