Former four-term Missouri Congressman Russ Carnahan, the son of a governor and U.S. senator, announced Friday that he intends to run for lieutenant governor this year.
His entry into the race, rumored for months, fills a gap in the Democrats’ statewide lineup for 2016.
Three-term lieutenant governor Peter Kinder, a Republican, is not seeking re-election this year as he makes his bid for governor.
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Carnahan, 57, sent an email to “friends and supporters” saying he would “soon be officially announcing my candidacy for lieutenant governor of Missouri” and seeking contributions.
“Many of you have consistently encouraged me to continue serving our state in new ways — especially at a time when so many of our state officials are so very disconnected from the everyday needs and aspirations of Missourians,” he wrote.
Also Friday, Carnahan filed papers with the Missouri Ethics Commission establishing a “Russ Carnahan for Missouri” campaign committee.
Carnahan served as a member of Congress representing the St. Louis area in the state’s 3rd District from 2005-2013. He succeeded former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt.
He was maneuvered out of his old district as the result of redistricting, a process that caused a split between him and Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City.
In 2012, he was trounced as he faced fellow Democrat and incumbent Lacy Clay in the Democratic primary for the redrawn 1st District.
Republicans Mike Parson and Bev Randles are seeking the Republican nomination. Three other not so well-known Democrats are also running, but Carnahan would be the heavy favorite to win the primary.
The November general election could prove to be an excellent test of the strength of the Carnahan name 16 years following the death of Gov. Mel Carnahan in an airplane crash and four years since any Carnahan has held public office. Robin Carnahan attracted lots of votes in her two runs for secretary of state. But Republican Roy Blunt beat her badly in the 2010 U.S. Senate race, and she’s been out of office since early 2013.
Republicans released a quick response to the news:
“You know the Missouri Democratic Party is desperate when the only person they can find to run for lieutenant governor voted with Barack Obama 99 percent of the time and rubberstamped Obamacare, cap-and-trade, and the stimulus while he was in Washington,” said John Hancock, chairman of the Missouri Republican Party. “The Democrats are clearly doubling down on the failed Obama agenda, and in November, Missourians will reject Russ Carnahan just like that have repeatedly rejected Barack Obama.”