STRAFFORD, Mo. – Republican Secretary of State Matt Blunt (search), son of the U.S. House majority whip, formally launched his candidacy for governor Wednesday, saying education is his top priority.
Blunt, 33, whose candidacy had long been expected, is so far unchallenged for the Republican nomination.
Blunt told his supporters that, if he is elected, it would be the first time in state history that Republicans controlled Missouri government. The GOP secured the Legislature in November 2002.
"Our destination is clear. The days of division are numbered," said Blunt, who was joined by his father, Rep. Roy Blunt (search), R-Mo.
Blunt did not mention Gov. Bob Holden (search) by name, although he made it clear he believes the Democratic governor was wrong to withhold nearly $200 million of the $4.55 billion appropriated for elementary and secondary education at the July start of the state fiscal year.
Holden said the budget passed by the Legislature lacked enough revenue to meet its spending commitments, although he did release $83 million to schools and colleges in December after receiving an unexpected influx of federal money.
Caleb Weaver, a spokesman for Holden's campaign, on Wednesday questioned why Blunt remained silent while the governor and Legislature butted heads over education.
"Obviously we would like it if Matt Blunt would show a little leadership and join the governor in pushing for more money for education," he said.
Holden, 54, faces a Democratic primary challenge by state Auditor Claire McCaskill, 50.
Blunt followed his father's career path by winning election as secretary of state in 2000. Before that, he served a two-year term in the Missouri House.