Thursday, January 08, 2009

Steelman: "I'm Interested"

The outgoing State Treasurer and G.O.P. "outsider" tells the KY3 Political Notebook she's "interested in continuing public service," and will consider a bid to replace Senator Kit Bond in 2010.
Outgoing Republican State Treasurer and former candidate for Governor Sarah Steelman said she will consider making a run at the U.S. Senate seat that Missouri's most senior elected official announced he will vacate this morning when his term expires in 2010.
"I'm interested in continuing public service, but it's just happened so I'm still trying to see what to make of it," Steelman said in an interview midday Thursday as public officials were still sending out reaction statements. "I really thought he'd probably run for 1 more term. I just think it's important for me to think it through," Steelman added.
Steelman has been critical of Senator Kit Bond's spending policies in the past, and the rift between the two grew when Bond publicly endorsed Kenny Hulshof over for Governor over Steelman last May.
In the interview with the Notebook, Steelman mixed praise of Bond with some critical comments. "Kit Bond had a good record of public service, and he has certainly served our state well, but we've had our policy differences," Steelman said. "So this is a chance we can set policy in a new direction," she added.
"Senator Bond and Congressman Blunt represent the old ways of Washington. I don't think people can tolerate that," Steelman said candidly.
When asked what issues specifically represent "the old ways of Washington," Steelman rattled off, "spending, massive campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the cozy relationships in Congress, the lack of fiscal discipline."
Steelman also complimented Sen. Claire McCaskill for partnering with Sen. John McCain on a bill to reign in earmarks. "I think it's great. These are changes that have not taken place before," she said. "From a philosophical view, I think we need change in Washington to get rid of the old ways."
Comments like these will certainly rub members of the Republican establishment the wrong way, but Steelman surprised many by coming within four and a half points of Hulshof during the August primary race.
Steelman, who is set to start teaching at Missouri State University next week, said she will obviously take some time to consider her next political move. "I'm just trying to get a timeline for my class," Steelman said, noting that she was working on her syllabus Thursday when she first heard the news. "I'm just watching and thinking about it."
Two Republican sources tell The Notebook that Southwest Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt is already reaching out, making calls to supporter and campaign contributors to feel out a possible run for U.S. Senate. Blunt's public statement only offered praise of Bond Thursday, but the sources said that Blunt's early moves are not surprising.
"I can tell you he's very interested, but that's really only natural," said one source.
A spokesperson from Blunt's office did not immediately respond for comment.

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