JEFFERSON CITY -- The Missouri governor's mansion now looks to be Attorney General Jay Nixon's to lose in November.
One-term Republican incumbent Matt Blunt, with whom Democrat Nixon has been trading political blows for the past two years, suddenly announced yesterday evening he wouldn't seek a second term in 2008. The news set off speculation in the Show-Me state GOP about who might take on Nixon, who has led Blunt in almost every poll.
Blunt greatly out-gained Nixon in campaign fundraising last year but was eventually forced to return almost $4.5 million on a Supreme Court ruling, LNL reported last November. The AG returned $1.1 million in campaign donations but he still has a formidable campaign team and a war-chest of more than $1 million.
First Republican to enter the race was Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a former senate president and tipped as a gubernatorial candidate for 2012. Other names reportedly being touted to take on Nixon include former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt Jr. (father of the governor) and former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway.
Blunt, aged just 37, said in a YouTube video release that he had accomplished all his goals as governor and intended spending more time with his family. He had recently been snarled in a legal scandal connected to deleted e-mails and the subsequent firing of a staff attorney.
No Missouri Democrats have emerged to challenge Nixon as the party's endorsement for governor since the AG made his intentions plain in 2006. In a poll conducted last November, Nixon led Blunt in the governor's race by 51 percent to 42 percent.