OPENING UP THE 7TH
The early conventional wisdom among the G.O.P. chattering class is that Rep. Roy Blunt is the likely Republican frontrunner to replace Sen. Kit Bond in 2010.
Two top Republican consultants in Missouri tells The Notebook that other House members and would-be candidates like Rep. Sam Graves and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson would likely defer to Blunt, if he wants to run.
ALSO: The News-Leader's Chad Livengood quotes Gov. Matt Blunt saying Dad Will Run.
"He's been in leadership, he's helped them on committees, he's helped them with fundraising, he's friends with all of them. And they like him," said this Republican consultant, who requested anonymity to speak freely on the topic. "He has a good statewide network, and on top of that he's got a national network. In that important Springfield media market, he's been speaking to that community for 10 years. I know Roy is interested, and he'd probably be the strongest candidate statewide."
This consultant also believes that while State Treasurer Sarah Steelman could become a possible candidate, "I don't really know if it's her intention to go to Washington. I think it's more in her personality to stay and go for something statewide."
On a potential candidacy of Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder: "I believe Peter's focus will be on potentially challenging Jay Nixon in four years."
EARLIER: Two other Ozarks Republicans tell The Notebook that Rep. Roy Blunt is "very interested," and privately feeling out longtime allies about a potential candidacy.